UNDP Around the world

Emergency Employment for IDPs in Shelters

Internally Displaced Women remove garbage surrounding a shelter as part of a cash for work set up by UNDP in Syria

Located on the Mediterranean coast, the governorate of Tartous is currently hosting 500,000 displaced persons from various neighboring governorates since the start of the crisis in Syria. While communities in Tartous have been welcoming, a significant burden on basic services has emerged leaving local hosts not fully capable of fulfilling the needs of the displaced persons who sometimes arrives with only the clothes they have on.

“We left Aleppo very quickly as the violence erupted, said Um Mohammad who came with her five Children to Bosera”. We are not as lucky as others who have family and relatives here, and therefore, the shelters were our only resort”.

Highlights

  • UNDP launched a cash-for-work emergency employment scheme that has so far provided 630 emergency employment opportunities that address solid waste in hosting shelters and its surroundings.
  • Over 9000 tons of waste were removed from shelters and dealt with in an environmental friendly manner.
  • So far, 1000 IDPs, among which 70% are women and children have been approached by the project with personal and community awareness building campaign.

There are many examples similar to Um Mohammad who faces an uncertain future. While the shelters that receive them offer hygiene kits, and other items, IDPs are in need of cash to purchase basic items such as food and clothes.

There are approximately 22,540 IDPs living in shelters the 14 community shelters in Tartous city. Most of those shelters are public buildings such as schools and official buildings, which were quickly and with minor rehabilitation, turned into shelters. Due to the stretching municipal capacities the shelters, are lacking among other things the adequate solid waste management.

“Having the influx of more than 4000 families to the shelters, didn’t leave us enough time to do proper rehabilitation of the shelters, said Waleed a shelter manager who works as a volunteer with the (Smart Women Organization). “This shelter did not have adequate solid waste removal mechanisms, which resulted in health hazards to hosted IDPs ”.

With such a challenge came an opportunity for Um Mohammad who found an emergency work opportunity in solid waste removal and disposal in her hosting shelter after a short orientation exercise taken that was provided by the project team. “I earn about (4$ a day), and I work for about seven hours a day “.

In partnership with the Smart Women Organization, UNDP launched a cash-for-work emergency employment scheme that has so far provided 630 emergency employment opportunities that address solid waste in hosting shelters and its surroundings. As most of these employment opportunities were given to IDPs, about 3150 of their family members have benefited from cash that they require for their basic needs.

“We are working to address a major issue facing the IDPs in Tartous” said Yasser Issa, who is UNDP’s area manager. “We are providing cash for work opportunities for IDPs whose livelihoods have been disrupted and are in dire need to maintain their dignity”.

Usually, IDP’s such as Um Mohammad who run away quickly from their place of origin, leaving all their belongings behind, as a result, they became dependent on humanitarian support provided by active local NGOs such as the Smart Women Organization for cash handouts. This is why, such cash for work opportunities are a better alternative to charity handouts simply because IDP’s feel more dignified.

“I feel very fortunate that I am not given a handout and I am able to inject cash into my household with my hard work” said Um Mohammad who uses the cash she earns to buy her children basic needs.

Simultaneously, UNDP in coordination with municipality and the above mentioned NGO have so far addressed the public hygiene of 14 shelters in Tartous which are housing at least 22,540 IDPs. Furthermore, over 9000 tons of waste were removed from shelters and dealt with in an environmental friendly manner.

The intervention went an extra mile, beyond solid waste removal and disposal. Because of this project, Wadi Al Hiddeh facility , which is composed of a sanitary landfill, a screening plant, and an organic fertilizers plant was re-operated to treat the collected solid waste from the shelters. The facility has been operating with a 200 tons capacity of sorting solid waste per day. Since this operation has taken place, the growth of three random landfills in the governorate has been halted, which resulted in a less stacking-up garbage around targeted neighborhoods.

The surrounding areas inhabitants were also targeted with community hygiene awareness, and they are putting their domestic solid waste in plastic bags and putting it in the locally produced containers provided by the project as well, in the assigned collecting points. This practice enhanced the community hygiene conditions in the targeted neighborhoods.

“This is the first time someone has approached us with regards to our domestic waste management behaviors” said Madiha, a resident of Al-Karnak hosting shelter who now treats her garbage differently after following the personal and community hygiene campaign conducted by the project. So far, 1000 IDPs, among which 70% are women and children have been approached by the project with personal and community awareness building campaign .

The intervention gained a good reputation in Tartous, as it went beyond the generation of emergency employment, but also into more active community involvement, and environmental impact, UNDP plans to replicate this intervention in other areas in the country where IDPs are in need of cash-for-work opportunities that can also address social and environmental challenges.

“When I left my house in Al Bab in Aleppo with everything behind, I felt a great deal of uncertainty” confirmed Um Mohammad. “But now, I have hope, and I feel I may not need to reach out for handouts any more as I regain back my normal life” said Um Mohammad.