Economy under Siege, Duma as a Model


Enab Baladi Issue # 125 – Sun, July. 13, 2014

Muhammad Husam Helmi

Large number of Syrian cities have been living under tight siege for over a year and half; the cities of Eastern and Western Ghoutas in Damascus Suburbs are on the top of these cities that suffer from an acute shortage in all basic needs including food supplies, baby milk, medicine, and power supplies.

As the prolonged siege continues, supplies deplete and prices soar, thus activists made an attempt to secure alternative resources and to fund small developmental projects that adapt to the siege and provide solutions to problems and difficulties during the current circumstances.

The complete power cut in Duma and other cities in the eastern Ghouta was the first issue to be addressed. Electricity has been cut since late 2012, during liberation clashes; after that, electricity was provided four hours a day in the area for two months, then the blackout resumed. The people in the city depended on power generators; however, the high costs of fuels render it an impractical solution. Prices of oil and diesel increased and reached 3200 S.P, and 1900 S.P respectively compared to 75 S.P at the beginning of siege at the end of 2012.

According to the activist Osama Nassar, the power cut led to the closure of a number of media and service departments; whereas other departments had to work under the umbrella of other parties, mostly military, in order to obtain power supply.

The attempt made by the peaceful movement office in Douma was one of the successful attempts to counter the problem of power cut; the office resorted to alternative power, using solar energy in order to dispense with the use of power generators.

Mr. Nassar said that the idea “is successful and effective despite that the level of the performance is affected by the short day hours, especially onrainy and cloudy days in winter”. The activist added that the project aims at “creating a successful story that will be a remarkable example for others to follow or be inspired by”.

The office of “Development and Support of Small Enterprises” was established late in 2013 by the Syrian activist Razan Zaitouneh and her abducted friends. The office aims at helping the Syrian society to rebuild itself through implementing developmental projects that provide people with basic services and encourage them to positively contend with the siege. The office supervises a number of small developmental projects in the city, and works on coordinating with a number of civil society organizations to set up further projects.

This model reflects people’s abilities, their positivity in coping and their creativity in overcoming the siege and finding ways to secure some of the basic needs of the besieged people.

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