About us

UNDP in Syria

Who we are

UNDP works in nearly 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. This is a critical time for the world. At UNDP, we see this period as a huge opportunity to advance the global sustainable development agenda. In September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to continue the work of the Millennium Development Goals. UNDP is working to strengthen new frameworks for development, disaster risk reduction and climate change. We support countries' efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, which will guide global development priorities for the next 15 years.  

UNDP has been operational in Syria for nearly four decades, since 1975. Its presence has been continuous through the best of times and in the worst of times, in times of war and peace. Since the eruption of the crisis in Syria in 2011, UNDP has been an integral partner in the relief and humanitarian assistance efforts undertaken by a multitude of partners. As an organization, we have evolved in orientation and coverage to help in the identification of affected communities’ needs and priorities in an often rapidly fluid political and security setting in order to lay the foundations for longer-term development objectives. UNDP aims to support and strengthen the ability and resilience of the Syrian people and communities to adapt to their current challenges. 

Following the outbreak of conflict in 2011, UNDP Syria adapted its programme, realigning its work from previous country programme focus areas (economic growth, governance, environmental management, and natural disaster risk management) to an approach focused on emergency livelihoods and early recovery through its resilience building  programme. 

The deteriorating security situation and the difficultly in accessing critical areas in need of support reinforced the importance of crisis-sensitive programming. As such, UNDP works with local partners (non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations, local authorities and local committees), developing their capacity and acknowledging and enhancing their role as central actors in service provision and recovery. 

UNDP is actively operating in twelve governorates: Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh, As-Sweida, Damascus, Dar’a, Deir-Ez- Zor, Hama, Homs, Lattakia, Quneitra, Rural Damascus and Tartous. When access allowed, UNDP worked in Idleb and Ar-Raqqah and will continue to promote better access to serve the population there. We work either through direct field presence, outsourced personnel, private service providers and/or partner Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The extended network of partners and various implementation modalities are essential to overcoming operational and access challenges, and to ensure higher flexibility in response and resilience to security and other shocks in the target areas.

What do we want to accomplish?

Against continued volatility, and to establish the basis for a sustainable recovery, the 2016-17 UNDP Country Programme is founded on a resilience-based approach, which is integral to and complements the ongoing humanitarian response in the country, aligned with the Humanitarian Response Plan 2016, while expanding its scope to effectively bridge humanitarian and early recovery interventions. The resilience-based response strengthens the coping mechanisms of the most vulnerable communities and individuals within the humanitarian response. It promotes early recovery in areas where stabilization approaches are possible, mitigating displacement emanating not only from insecurity, but also from a lack of socio-economic opportunity; and it lays the foundation for sustained local economic development when the crisis ends.

UNDP Syria’s country programme for 2016-2017 falls under the overall strategic goal of “Enhancing the resilience and socio-economic stabilization of individuals and communities” by (a) restoring the disrupted livelihoods of the affected communities; and (b) restoring, rehabilitating and maintaining sustainable basic services and infrastructure in damaged areas and host communities. Embedded in each of our outcome areas is an institutional crisis response capacity development component (including the design, planning, management, monitoring and oversight of recovery programmes) for key national and local partners. 

 In addition, under the Humanitarian Response Plan, UNDP, as the lead agency for the Early Recovery and Livelihoods sector, coordinates and guides early recovery efforts under the whole of Syria’s coordination architecture, ensuring that early recovery and resilience building is mainstreamed in various sectors, facilitating planning, targeting, implementation and tracking of results.

Mindful of the scale of the crisis, the scaled-up, targeted, and rapidly responsive interventions of UNDP Syria in 2016-2017 strives to mitigate displacement and movement of refugees, including forced, illegal, and unsafe migration and the trafficking of refugees. Crucial to this objective is the decision to focus on stabilizing communities that host large numbers of displaced persons; the rapid support through peace dividends in areas of relative calm and where internally displaced persons return; and the promotion of social cohesion. 

Seeking to scale up the results from 2013-2015 in terms of geographic and beneficiary reach, as well as more sustainable interventions (such as value chains), UNDP prioritizes the most vulnerable populations, which are in need of livelihood support. Interventions are designed to create conditions that reduce displacement trends and enable some level of economic recovery and social cohesion among internally displaced communities and their hosts. We maximize complementarity between our engagement in emergency livelihoods and emergency basic service rehabilitation under the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan 2016, as well as crisis response capacity support under the United Nations Strategic Framework, 2016-2017.

What are our results?

In 2014 and 2015, UNDP touched the lives of 4.5 million persons in all Syrian governorates through targeted early recovery and livelihoods restoration efforts in partnership with more than 150 local actors including NGOs, CBOs and faith-based organizations. This was achieved through rehabilitation of community infrastructure and restoration of basic services using labor-intensive approach, where a total of 44,000 emergency employment opportunities were provided to IDPs and their host community members working on solid waste and debris management and quick repairs in affected Syrian governorates. It has also facilitated the revival of at least 1,514 business through productive assets replacement, start-up grants, vocational trainings, job placements, value-chain development and market restoration. UNDP’s projects have contributed to stimulating the local economy through fostering local production and procurement. 

In 2015, UNDP helped restore service delivery in six highly affected governorates in Syria: Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh, Hama, Homs, Rural Damascus and Tartous, This included repairing more than 250 km of water networks in Homs Governorate, rehabilitating five health centres in As-Sfiera in Aleppo Governorate, providing access to health services to at least 720 people from the area, and rehabilitating a kindergarten and its affiliated facilities in Hama Governorate to increase its capacity to reach more children due to the high influx of IDPs in the area. 

People with disabilities, a highly vulnerable group that is expanding due to the crisis, have been a priority for inclusion in our cash-for-work, local production, and local economic recovery projects. Additionally, and among the programmes that continued throughout the crisis, the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) have served an already vulnerable population of nearly 3,800 individuals across the country. 

Through its Livelihoods and Early Recovery programme, UNDP in 2015 strengthened the resilience of almost 2.2 million affected people (including dependent family members), reducing reliance on humanitarian assistance. This was achieved through implementing more than 100 recovery and livelihoods interventions in partnership with local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in 12 highly affected governorates: Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh, As-Sweida, Damascus, Dar’a, Deir-Ez-Zor, Hama, Homs, Lattakia, Quneitra, Rural Damascus and Tartous. 

UNDP also helped to revive 381 micro businesses including in agriculture and farming in 2015. This included providing 5,086 jobs to IDPs and host communities, replacing and distributing 3,094 tools and productive assets that directly contribute to the generation of income, and encouraging local production and procurement to stimulate the local economy. 

In our role as Early Recovery sector lead, we helped ensure that resilience building was integrated into the UN-wide two-year strategic framework. We convened key actors in the cluster to define how systems, institutions and individuals across the country can be supported to become more resilient to shocks, identified mechanisms to support the quick recovery of service delivery to affected communities, and support a more resilient society through improving socio-economic conditions of the people of Syria through the creation and scaling up of sustainable livelihood opportunities, including economic recovery and social inclusion measures and care for households and communities. A multi-sector, area-based approach was identified as an enabling and sustainable mechanism promoting IDP’s return and quick restoration of the social fabric.

Who are the decision makers?

The Resident Representative of UNDP Syria is officially accredited to the country and represents the highest level of accountability of the UNDP in Syria. The Representative delegates authority to various levels of management such as the Country Director and Deputy Country Director. Decisions in the office are made by various bodies within UNDP, including the Management Group for setting the direction of the UNDP programme priorities, and the Programme and Operations Groups focusing respectively on project management and financial and human resources. New projects and programmes are developed between these groups under the leadership of the UNDP Representative together with relevant partners. 

The UNDP office and our national counterparts are not the only decision-makers as regards the nature and direction of the work of the UNDP in the country. Donors play a key role in supporting the humanitarian activities, with financing and material support. For more information on our donors, please see the Our Partners page.

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