Surviving conflict: Meeting basic needs in Syria

December 15, 2016
Written by Aoife O'Grady

As the world processes the horrific images emerging from Aleppo, we’re focused on the everyday struggle of Syrians who are caught in the middle of a seemingly endless crisis.

Over the past five years, repeated waves of violence have swept through Syria, forcing the resilient communities that remain to repeatedly regroup, rebuild, and carry on. Our team is on the ground standing with these communities, helping to meet basic needs like food and water.

High profile sieges have demonstrated that hunger is being used as an effective weapon of war in Syria.

Clean water is now a luxury

As we watch the tragic destruction of Syria, it’s easy to forget that this nation was once a well-developed country. Five years of conflict have destroyed key parts of the country’s infrastructure, such as municipal water systems, the lack of which poses a serious risk to public health.

Water system repairs in Syria

The Concern team repairs a borehole in Syria to ensure that local households have access to clean drinking water. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

The Concern team has been working to restore these systems, and is supplying households with chlorine tablets to ensure clean drinking water in the meantime. So far, we’ve provided 200,000 people in Syria with access to safe drinking water.

Meeting basic foods needs is an ongoing struggle for many families in Syria.

One beneficiary of this work is Amena* and her two children. Amena’s son is physically disabled and unable to walk, and she’s been left alone to care for him. Their home is not connected to the water network, so they’ve had no choice but to drink untreated water from a nearby river. This caused frequent bouts of illness, including diarrhea, until our team provided Amena with chlorine tablets. We also trained her to chlorinate water in her storage tank, vastly improving the family’s health.

To make matters worse

The bombing of buildings and the breakdown of municipal systems across Syria have resulted in a build-up of dust, dirt, and trash — providing the perfect breeding ground for pests and insects, and helping to spread disease.  In particular, sand flies — which spread a disease called leishmaniasis — have been causing health problems among Syrian communities.

Pest control in Syria

A member of the Concern team in Syria sprays a building to control the spread of pests and insects. Photo: Concern Worldwide

To fight off these pests, our team has employed a truck and specialized equipment to spray problem areas. We have also provided trash bins to reduce the amount of waste on the street.

Filling in the gaps

Meeting basic foods needs is an ongoing struggle for many families in Syria. Entire industries have been wiped out, supplies are limited, and the amount of money in circulation is dwindling. As we have seen in recent high profile sieges, hunger is being used as a weapon of war.

Food supplies for Syria

Food parcels being delivered to Syrian families by the Concern team. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Our teams are helping 5,000 families stave off hunger by delivering monthly food parcels and providing food vouchers to buy basics like bulgur wheat, rice, oil, and sugar.

Shared resilience

In the face of constant violence, trauma, and battle to meet basic human needs, the Syrian people show incredible spirit and resilience. With the imminent onset of a sixth winter of conflict, the Concern team stands shoulder to shoulder with these strong-willed communities.

*Name changed for security purposes.

Help us continue the distribution of life-saving resources for Syrians in need: