The conflict in Syria has had a disastrous effect on the country’s economy. The country has experienced market collapse, inflation and currency depreciation, looting and destruction. Job shortages and lack of cash are major challenges faced by most of the 6.5 million internally displaced people of Syria – about 45 percent of the population - as well as many of the host communities. The result is that 85.2 per cent of the population have been plunged into poverty, and over 50 per cent of the labour force has been pushed into unemployment. Approximately 2.3 million livelihoods have been lost so far due to the crisis. Many of the displaced have exhausted their savings and resorted to coping mechanisms that cause further harm over the long term, such as selling off assets and reduction in meals. Recent assessments show that the Syrian human development indices have been rolled back 35 years since the conflict began.
Whether living in formal or informal shelters or hosted by the community, internally displaced people are suffering from disrupted livelihoods, loss of income, productive means and limited access to health services. Support mechanisms are extremely strained due to limited resources and depleting savings of both internally displaced people and host communities. Moreover, women-headed households are on the rise.
Contributing to Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, and 8, this priority area aims to reactivate the production process and provide sustainable livelihood resources for the Syrian population. Interventions in this area aim to enhance skills, capacities, and resources in the most affected communities, targeting internally displaced persons, host communities, returnees and crisis-affected areas.
Initiatives are designed to promote the recovery of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, local markets, and value chains, and include the creation of new businesses opportunities. UNDP focuses on businesses and value chains with proven social and environmental sustainability (‘green’ jobs), such as clothing and dairy, agricultural livelihoods, value chain recovery, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); production and distribution of ‘winterization’ products, in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and developing locally-produced food products for World Food Programme (WFP) food baskets. Support to market-relevant vocations (such as welding and carpentry), vocational training, apprenticeship and on-the-job training will benefit existing and emerging livelihood opportunities.
Within those interventions, specific initiatives are targeted to the increasing number of persons with disabilities, for whom physical rehabilitation (provision of prostheses) will be paired with on-the-job training. Women in Syria are disproportionately affected by the crisis, taking on more responsibilities, such as heading the household, and having limited access to life-saving services and livelihood opportunities. Tailored interventions provide livelihood opportunities to female-headed households lacking the capacity to rely on pre-existing businesses and often lacking the ability to leave home for security reasons.
Youth are a major focus group of livelihood opportunities generation so as to reduce incentives for them to foster negative coping mechanisms. Given the positive role of youth in supporting their communities, and recognizing that strengthening their capacities will enhance community resilience, UNDP partners with youth to ensure their active engagement in livelihood and social inclusion programmes and innovation opportunities to create solutions that respond effectively to the impact of the crisis.