The Syrian crisis has devastated the country, setting back development gains by decades and resulting in immense human suffering. The crisis has affected its entire sub-region in multiple ways and continues to threaten development and stability in neighboring countries.
The conflict had a negative impact on sub-regional trade and neighboring economies, and the influx of Syrian refugees created tremendous challenges in neighboring countries, especially on the delivery of basic social services. With more than 80 per cent of refugees living in host communities, municipal services are overburdened, prices rising and social tensions growing.
The scale and protracted nature of the crisis have galvanized an international consensus that this is not only a political or a humanitarian crisis, but also a development crisis, and that a humanitarian response alone in this context can run the risk of being unsustainable and unaffordable.
The crisis has reached a point where it is imperative to complement humanitarian interventions with a development response centered on building the resilience of refugees, host communities, and national systems.
In November 2013 UNDP established a Sub-Regional Response Facility comprising a multidisciplinary team to coordinate the development response to the Syria crisis under the leadership of a Sub-Regional Coordinator.
The Facility aims to enhance UNDP’s overall response at the sub-regional level and in impacted countries, namely, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, by rallying the capacities and resources of development partners and generating catalytic knowledge for a robust and cost-effective resilience-based development response to the crisis.
The Facility acts as a think-tank and a hub to test and scale-up innovative development solutions, and advocacy, outreach and resources mobilization efforts, in support of UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators, UN Country Teams and UNDP Country Offices.
In less than a year from its establishment, the Facility has facilitated the Regional United Nations Development Group’s adoption of the resilience-based development approach as its contribution to a more integrated and coordinated response to the crisis.
The resilience-based approach is grounded in the belief that supporting national capacities is the cornerstone of a sustainable response and that bringing greater coherence across humanitarian and development dimensions allows for scaling-up of investment in national development processes.
The Facility has been also at the heart of the creation of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), which represents a major strategic shift in the UN’s response to crises. Through the 3RP, UNDP and UNCHR are setting up an inclusive and innovative model for delivering a comprehensive and coordinated crisis response which addresses immediate vulnerabilities, strengthens social cohesion, and builds the resilience of people, communities and institutional systems.
Investing in resilience-based development will enhance aid effectiveness and result in significant mid-to-long term overall savings in the overall response to the crisis. The 3RP will contribute to more resilient national institutions that will be able to cope with possible future shocks. In addition, the lessons
learnt from the 3RP model may be applicable in other complex and protracted crises.
With its multi-disciplinary rapid response team, the Facility provides expert capacity, innovative solutions, and thought leadership to all partners involved in the resilience-based development response to the Syria crisis—including support to the elaboration of resilience-based national response plans and accompanying projects and programmes.
The Facility has succeeded in bridging the gap between humanitarian assistance and sustainable human development through introducing the resilience-based development approach and ensuring a common regional response to the crisis, hence helping build an infrastructure for peace.
Since its creation, the Facility has facilitated strategic and innovative partnerships to help provide high-impact and timely solutions for vulnerable communities in Syria and neighboring countries; and maximize the impact of technical and financial resources to best respond to the crisis.