The Banafsaj (Violet) Organisation has implemented a Cash For Work Programme in the al-Bab region of northern Aleppo. The program helps develop the local agricultural industry while providing many displaced Syrians with much-needed jobs.
Like Idlib, the population of northern Aleppo countryside, grew exponentially over the course of the Syrian conflict. A stronghold of the Syrian Opposition, the region received many displaced Syrians who either moved away from conflict zones or were forced to leave the region as part of the reconciliation agreements imposed by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
Having lost their homes and livelihoods and having often suffered life-changing injuries, many of these people find themselves trapped in chronic poverty and unemployment. Around al-Bab City, these challenges are met by the Banafsaj (Violet) Organisation whose “Cash For Work” programme is providing displaced Syrians with much-needed jobs and sources of income.
The Cash for Work programme employs around 900 people who partake in programmes lasting 20 days and four hours a day, doing work in farms such as cleaning debris and spraying pesticides or helping in the cultivation of land. Over 500 farmers and landowners benefit from this project which was also coordinated with the al-Bab Agricultural Directorate, resulting an increase of production in the local agricultural sector. Workers can earn as much as $120 for the duration of a programme which is a significant source of revenue in a country where the average monthly income has fallen to as little as $70.
According to Hisham Younis, the Executive Administrator of the project, the main aim is to provide work for people seeking jobs and increasing agricultural output including of olive oil. The long-term goals are also the restoration of agricultural land destroyed during the war through the planting of fruit-bearing trees. The al-Bab region was chosen due to its relative safety and the large number of displaced Syrians who could benefit from the project.
Indeed, for displaced Syrians, the project has been a boon. One of the workers, Ibrahim al-Abdullah lost his leg in Deir ez-Zour, preventing him from taking up more arduous types of work. He was unemployed in al-Bab for three years. The programme has provided him with a job and he hopes that he can move on to do projects that he could not start during his years of employment.