Policy experts and aid initiatives are revealing that programs providing aid for Syria are not necessarily the best solution, given that four out of five individuals are still living in extreme poverty.
“Given the brutality that has come to characterize Syria’s four-year war, it is understandable that the discussion of the conflict has focused on violent deaths,” says an article in the newspaper, The Guardian.
According to news source IRIN, there is another scourge destroying lives in the country: “economic ruin and crippling poverty, what a U.N. backed report called an equally horrendous, but silent disaster.”
Traditional humanitarian aid is simply not enough. On the contrary, policy makers need to implement long-term, sustainable solutions that foster prosperity and social development in order to lift Syria out of crisis.
Even some Syrians have recognized that a new kind of approach regarding humanitarian aid is necessary to begin to progress. One aid worker based in northeast Syria told IRIN, “Syrians were requesting support with farming…something more productive than just being given food parcels.”
The northern part of the country used to be known as the breadbasket because agricultural development was popular in this area. Nonetheless, due to the social, economic and political conditions, this once productive territory is now almost dormant.
According to IRIN, displacement caused by shifting frontlines has resulted in missed harvest and planting seasons, and 6.6 million Syrians in total have been internally displaced by the violence inside their country.
“People who returned to areas vacated by the so-called Islamic State, for example, have come home to neglected soil and could not afford seeds,” says the IRIN article.
Moreover, the demand for agricultural products has diminished since humanitarian aid for Syria was introduced in the last year.
Government-issued agricultural subsidies have reduced and in some areas disappeared, according to the Guardian. “Prior to the conflict, the regime of President Bashar al Assad was the primary purchaser of wheat and maize; it still buys these products in some places, but on a far smaller scale,” the Guardian states.
A different kind of aid for Syria will promote sustainability, and social and economic development. Livelihood projects are essential for the population to progress.
Rim Turkami, a researcher from the London School of Economics, suggested that livelihood support is even essential to abate the war economy. Her investigation showed that individuals are joining the armed forces because it is the only opportunity to earn a salary.
As IRIN suggested, “Even in Syria, people are trying to cope.”
– Isabella Rölz