Supporting the Syria Resilience Program with Three Assessments on the Labor Market and Food Security and Livelihood Restoration in Syria

As one of the most complex and tragic crises in history, the Syrian conflict has negatively impacted the agricultural labour market of the country in various manners that resulted in instability of the state’s economic activities and jobs.

Since 2017, CARE Syria, galvanized by funding from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), has been implementing the Syria Resilience Program (SRP). The SRP’s aim is to assist families affected by conflict with a greater level of resilience, mitigate protection risks and negative coping mechanisms, and participate in economic livelihood activities.

In support of the CARE SRP, iMMAP carried out three comprehensive assessments centered on Syria’s agricultural sector and evaluating the impact on the household food security and livelihood status as influenced by CARE’s Food Security and Livelihood (FSL) approach within northwest Syria: Comparative Whole of Syria Agricultural Market Systems Study, Labour Market Assessment: Poultry and Agricultural Inputs Sectors in the Northwest Region of Syria and Impact Assessment of the Wheat and Olive FSL Programming in Northwest Syria.

With the help of focus group discussions with CARE’s FSL personnel and individual interviews with wheat, olive and dairy value chain SRP beneficiaries, iMMAP’s Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) conducted a study that comparatively assesses how the conflict has affected the relevant agricultural market systems and vulnerability of the local population across Syria. Due to its status as the core focus of CARE SRP’s activities for resilience-building and livelihood-restoration, special emphasis was given to the wheat, olive and livestock value chains. A revelation uncovered in this study was the drop in the price to acquire farmland since 2010: from within the range of 350 USD per olive tree to 50 USD per olive tree in the present moment.

A total of 79 employers and 99 workers across the northwest Syria were directly interviewed throughout November 2019 to conduct this study, which is centered on women and people with disabilities. Descriptive analysis of the quantitative and qualitative variables was employed to answer the study questions. The assessment uncovered the inadequacy of vocational and business skills training as the primary skill-acquiring barrier for women and people with disabilities.

A dataset comprising registration data obtained by CARE Syria on 2,628 wheat-farming households was evaluated and analyzed to conduct this assessment. The dataset contained indicators on the food security, economic vulnerability, and wheat crop productivity aspects of the farming households. Livelihood-based coping strategies and other household indicators such as food consumption scores, income, food expenditure, debt value and wheat crop farming productivity were used for the analysis to highlight the impact of the wheat value chain program for food security and livelihood restoration. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis were applied on the relevant indicators.

One of the results uncovered by this assessment was the positive gain in the monthly household income by 36%, from 55 to 75 US Dollars, among CARE SRP beneficiaries.