The Unified Relief Office seeks to transfer its expertise from Eastern Ghouta to the displacement areas in Northern Syria by launching several developmental projects that have the ability to integrate the people displaced from Eastern Ghouta into the labor market.
Early in June, the Office started a developmental agricultural project in the northern countryside of Aleppo, aiming to overcome the displacement crisis and indulge Eastern Ghouta’s evacuees in the labor market, in a manner that guarantee them a fixed source of income that help them secure a decent livelihood.
Alaa al-Sofi, the head of the Unified Relief Office, told Enab Baladi that the project’s idea was triggered by the “massive” human, financial and logistic resources in Northern Syria, especially pesticides, fertilizers and needed equipment, as well as the presence of large agricultural areas that Eastern Ghouta lacked.
He added that the people who took the responsibility for the project have noticed the high rate of unemployment among Eastern Ghouta’s people, who posses experience and skills required in the field of agriculture, pointing out that the project’s main objective is turning the displaced people into productive members that have the power to generate income by themselves.
The project’s implementation phase was preceded by an overall study of the cultivable areas which have water, according to which 17 hectares of agricultural lands were rented in the rural part of Afrin and Azaz, the northern countryside of Aleppo.
Currently, 58 displaced Eastern Ghouta families are directly benefiting from the project, in addition to other indirect beneficiaries.
The project is classified under “Food Security and Livelihoods” Sector, through which the Office aims “to fortify society and activate the displaced people’s role by turning them into a productive class.”
According to al-Sofi, the working plan is about allocating a single farmer to each hectare, who would supervise this agricultural area to finally receive a 25 to 30% of the production value.
He pointed out that the Unified Relief Office will meet all the financial expenses and logistic costs, including fuel, equipment and land rentals, in addition to conducting agricultural and technical supervision by specialized engineers and experienced farmers.
The project began with the cultivation of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers and watermelon, trying to benefit from the summer planting season, which are expected to be ripe by the end of this summer.
According to the Office’s Head Alaa al-Sofi, the project’s duration is six months that already started early in June, and the Office has decided to continue launching similar projects in the future, with a specific focus on “quality crops” that are absent in Northern Syria.
The agricultural plan is the Office’s first project in Northern Syria, through which it seeks to supplement the local market with high quality agricultural products.
The Office started working in Eastern Ghouta five years ago, for it has been active in a number of sectors, on top of which are “food security and livelihoods,” relief, shelter and nutrition, attempting to break the siege imposed on Eastern Ghouta.
The Office launched several agricultural and livestock projects in Ghouta with the objective to respond to the siege crisis through providing food-based materials to people, including milk and dairy products and to secure job opportunities for unemployed people to utilize their skills, in addition to the preservation of Ghouta’s agricultural sources and livestock.
In March 2018, Eastern Ghouta’s population suffered a forced displacement due to the reconciliation agreements which the Syrian regime conducted with the opposition factions under a Russian supervision.
Most of the displaced people then headed to Northern Syria.