The province of Daraa has seen significant changes over the course of 2017. The province, which remains one of the few regions where the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are stalemated, saw intense fighting over the first half of 2017. Only the deescalation agreement signed four months ago has managed to pause the fighting, allowing a tenuous peace to return to the province. Since then, villages such as Samad have been working to rebuild.
Located in Daraa’s southeast, along the provincial border with the SAA-controlled Suwaida, the small village of Samad saw its population swell as a result of the displacement from Damascus and other parts of Daraa. Meanwhile, its location along the front-lines of rebel and government-held lands has put Samad on the firing line. Shelling and ground battles have caused immense damage to its infrastructure.
The locals here took advantage of the extended period of calm, focusing on the rebuilding of schools in particular. It is well known that the Syrian education system suffered immensely over the course of the war that has gone on since 2011. Even the schools that remain operations have found themselves strained under the influx of displaced students. In Samad, the local council not only rebuilt the five schools available, but they have expanded them to provide them with extra capacity.
Other reconstruction work undertaken by the local council involves the electricity grid which was also heavily damaged during the fighting in and around the village. The inauguration of the new power grid took place alongside the inauguration of the schools.
Out of all of Syria’s provinces, Daraa has seen the most active reconstruction efforts. Locals in many villages have taken up to themselves to rebuild their homes and infrastructure. Local businesses have been growing too, partially prompted by unpredictable borders and high costs of imports. Meanwhile, many civil society groups have been working to ensure that children can catch up with their education and recover from the trauma of war. Lacking buildings or supplies for a wholesale reconstruction, some groups have gotten creative.
What the locals of Samad and, indeed, the whole province, now want is for the peace to persist, allowing them to return to normal lives after years of war.