Food Assistance: A Critical Step for Moving Forward in Syria

This week marks 6 years since the start of the Syrian conflict. At least 11 million Syrians have been forced from their homes – fleeing to other parts of the country and crossing borders into neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Worse still, half of those displaced are under the age of 18 and they are often the ones suffering most. The Syrian crisis is a children’s crisis.

Food assistance has been a critical element of the world’s response. Often in conflict, food becomes scarce. Syria’s own food production, once abundant in wheat and other grains, has dropped nearly 50% over the past 6 years. There is simply no longer enough food for everyone and millions go hungry each day. This means World Vision’s food programmes have been vital to creating better lives for Syrian and Iraqi children feeling the effects of the conflict.

Having been on the ground since early in the conflict, World Vision is at the forefront – providing food and emergency assistance and innovating new ways to tackle food insecurity.

In 2016, World Vision’s food programmes in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq reached more than 750,000 people, including nearly 400,000 children. The outcomes of having enough necessary food have been clear:

  • More children are able to attend school
  • Nutrition and health improve
  • Parents are less likely to marry their daughters off at a young age
  • Fewer children work to provide for themselves and their families

Basically, more children are able to be just that, children, allowing them to grow into healthy, flourishing adults.

Within this food assistance, World Vision has implemented innovative solutions that reach more people, more efficiently such as Last Mile Mobile Solutions, cash transfers and school partnerships.

Last Mile Mobile Solutions (LMMS) for food distribution and food vouchers is twice as fast as previous methods, with the capacity to assist 1,200 families per day, meaning less families have to ration supplies or skip meals. Where LMMS is implemented in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, World Vision and the UN’s World Food Programme distributed over 6,000 metric tonnes of food, providing for 30,000 households each month.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan are often unable to work legally. Food scarcity rises without a source of income. Cash transfer programmes provide parents with the ability to support their families while instilling the dignity of choice.

Through partnerships with schools in the refugee camps of Jordan, meals or snacks are provided during the school day, which relieves some pressure from the family budget and gives parents an incentive to send their children to school.

Meeting the immediate need for food has helped enable World Vision to also support other community needs:

  • Hospitals and schools are rebuilt and stocked with new equipment.
  • Communities are supported through mobile health clinics and new drinking water systems
  • Families are kept safe and warm with  the delivery of winterisation kits (blankets, clothes, stoves and fuel vouches).
  • More child-friendly spaces have been established in hard to reach places, providing children with much needed psychosocial support, education and the opportunity to have fun in a safe space.

In light of the coming 6 year anniversary, World Vision has released a report as part of its new campaign to end violence against children. This report considers the fears and dreams shared by one hundred Syrian children, providing insight into what it’s like growing up in this conflict. Learn more here.

While there is much more to be done, tangible progress is being made to improve the lives of Syrian children.

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