Food Vouchers and Free Bread Help Thousands of Families in Syria Tackle Food Insecurity

Published: Feb 19, 2016 Reading time: 4 minutes
Food Vouchers and Free Bread Help Thousands of Families in Syria Tackle Food Insecurity
© PIN Archive

As the conflict enters its sixth year, the impact of the ongoing crisis permeates all aspects of life in Syria. Not only have people been forced to flee their homes but the cost of living, or rather surviving, has become yet another challenge. In the past 18months, market prices across Syria have soared and the price of staple foods has become increasingly unmanageable. As an example, Syrians have witnessed the price of wheat flour increase three-fold and the price of rice six-fold. 

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that 9.8 million Syrians are suffering from food insecurity, among whom 6.8 million require urgent food aid. Inflation and the depreciation of the Syrian pound coupled with massive internal displacement and rising unemployment have hugely reduced the capacity of families to provide for themselves and cope amidst the crisis. 

In response to the widespread food insecurity and shattered economy, People in Need (PIN) provides 18,730 families with bread rations daily, in addition to distributing monthly food vouchers to 6,200 families. It is with the generous support of the European Commission’s Humanitarian aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO); the German government,via a German Alliance2015 partner organizationWelthungerhilfe; and the UK’s Department for International Development that this assistance is delivered.

Food vouchers

In Syria, where markets are functional PIN prefers to support beneficiaries through cash modalities in order to contribute to the local economy and to promote the dignity and independence of communities. Since April 2015 PIN has been providing over 6,000 vulnerable households in Idlib and Aleppo governorates with food vouchers in order to ensure that they meet their food needs. A 60 USD value voucher is given to each household each month, for a period of 3 months.

According to an external monitoring report of this project conducted by the Syrian Relief Network, 99% of those receiving PIN food vouchers consider them to be a good alternative to food baskets in terms of both quantity and diversity.  Vendors and beneficiaries alike expressed their satisfaction, noting that the vouchers provide households with the flexibility to meet their specific needs; give them access to fresh products such as vegetables, fruit, eggs, dairy and meat; and facilitate growth in the local market by increasing local production and trading.

Sa’ed al-Amkey and his five children constitute just six out of the 6.6 million internally displaced living in Syria. When violence and conflict overwhelmed his village in Aleppo governorate, he and his family fled like many others. “Before the war, I was employed, my children attended school and I was able to provide food and a home for my family,” says Sa’ed . “Like the majority of those displaced by violence, I took just a few pieces of clothing with me when I left and travelled via public transport in the direction of safety,” he adds. The conflict deprived Sa’ed of both his home and his source of income. Without work in his new village, supporting a family is an ongoing challenge.

When Sa’ed discovered that People in Need distributes food vouchers in his local area he became involved in the programme. People in Need aims to distribute to the most vulnerable across Aleppo and Idlib governorates, understanding and targeting the enormous needs of IDPs in particular.

Bread

Before the war the cost of bread was approximately 15 Syrian Pounds (SYP). Now, when over 54% of the Syrian population is unemployed - bread is 150SYP; ten times the price it was five years ago.

Since late 2012, PIN has also been supporting vulnerable families in northern Syria with daily bread rations. PIN supports local bakeries with approximately 561.9 MT of flour per month and grants to cover all operational costs in order to ensure that free bread (approximately 1,2 Kg per day) is available to over 18,000 of the most vulnerable households across Aleppo and Idlib governorates.

Fadi al-Hamood, a father of six from Hama countryside describes how his daily needs are constantly increasing. “Before the conflict consumed my village two years ago, I worked as a car mechanic, my children went to school, and there were functioning hospitals near our village,” he explains. “The only belongings I took with me from my old life amassed to a few items of clothing,” he adds. During his search for a suitable place for his family to live, newfound friends in receipt of free daily bread from People in Need introduced him to this programme which now contributes to food security for his family.

People in Need has been working in Syria since 2012 and is one of the key providers of humanitarian aid in northern Syria. To date, we have provided the most vulnerable people in Syria with aid valued at more than 15 million EUR, delivering aid to 1.8 million beneficiaries and indirectly assisting a further 1.2 million people.

Food aid in Syria we are able to provide thanks to: 

 

Author: Eleanor McClelland, PIN Syria Communication Officer

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