In the wake of the devastating earthquakes that shook northern Syria six months ago, Plan International supporters sprang into action. Together with generous contributions from our partners, like the Emergency Action Alliance, you’ve helped us to raise an incredible $356,812 for our emergency response.
Alongside our Plan International global colleagues and our dedicated partners, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), AVSI, INTERSOS, and Middle-East Council of Churches (MECC), your support has allowed us to provide life-saving assistance to a population struggling from 12 years of conflict, economic crisis, cholera outbreak, and harsh winter conditions.
90% of the population are living below the poverty line, with over 12 million people facing food insecurity, more than 2 million children are out of school, and 13 million people needing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance.
In the midst of this humanitarian emergency, Plan International is deeply conscious of the vulnerabilities faced by children, youth, and women, including increased risks of gender-based violence, child labour and child marriage, and it is with this lens that we approached our response.
Initially, your support helped us to provide immediate protection and lifesaving interventions following the disaster, distributing essential food parcels to the most vulnerable families and personal hygiene and household cleaning kits which are crucial in preventing the spread of diseases and maintaining a safe living environment. With time, we have expanded our response to include WASH), education and rehabilitation interventions with a focus on building resilience to empower communities in the long term.
We have rehabilitated six water systems so that 106,500 individuals in Aleppo and Latakia now have consistent access to safe drinking water and sanitation and hygiene facilities, and we have installed gender specific WASH facilities, to minimise protection risks for adolescent girls and women living in collective shelters, while also enhancing sanitation and hygiene conditions for all vulnerable populations.
We are currently preparing the distribution of Cash for Protection which aims to support children and their families to meet their critical needs and recognising the emotional toll of living through a disaster, we have planned psycho-social support and remedial classes to help children cope with trauma and continue their education despite the disruptions.
Education is critical to the wellbeing of children, and alongside our partners in Syria, we will be rehabilitating schools in affected areas and creating child-friendly spaces, providing children with a safe environment to play, learn, and heal, while supporting parents, caregivers and school personnel by trainings, mental health support sessions and necessary tools.
Your generous donations have supported Plan International to deliver a comprehensive response in earthquake affected areas, and will continue to empower vulnerable communities to recover, rebuild, and chart a hopeful path forward amidst the challenges they face.
WASH creating a safer environment for all
As one of 300 displaced people living inside a shelter in Syria’s fourth largest city without proper WASH units, privacy was impossible.
“Our lives were filled with challenging and distressing situations living in a collective shelter, particularly when it came to showering,” shares one resident. “We had to rely on the kindness of our relatives for a moment of privacy, as water was not always accessible, and power outages were a common occurrence, creating additional concern for our families. It was a hardship that made us feel vulnerable and exposed."
After assessing the most urgent needs of those living in the shelter, Plan International and ADRA installed proper gender specific wash units, consisting of 4 shower units for women and 4 shower units for men.
Sara, a young woman living in the shelter called the shower installation a ‘transformative blessing’ - “Clean, accessible, and functioning water facilities have become a reality, providing us with the essentials for maintaining good health,” she shares. “Regular access to water has become a consistent aspect of our daily lives, and we no longer have to face the hardships of uncertain availability. We feel valued and respected. These shower facilities ensure that girls, in particular, have their privacy and protection while maintaining their dignity. No longer do we have to worry about disturbing on each other’s space, and we can comfortably cleanse ourselves in an environment that respects our need for privacy. This newfound sense of protection has lifted a heavy burden from our shoulders, and we feel safer and more secure within these walls.”