The deterioration of livelihoods, loss of assets and damage to crops and infrastructure have had a devastating impact on food security across Syria, regardless of where the frontlines are. Even in towns and villages that haven’t been touched by airstrikes and gunfire, the conflict has been felt in disrupted trade and soaring food prices that have made basic foods inaccessible for families, many of whom are already living in poverty.
Mercy Corps has provided agricultural support, including irrigation systems, to help people improve their kitchen gardens. With a reliable food source at home, people are able to rely on their own land and communities, instead of unstable market connections. The gardens also provide a potential source of income for those who choose to sell the produce they grow.
Ali*, his daughter Lena* and wife Fatima* stand in front of their home with an assortment of food Ali grew in his garden. © Ezra Millstein/Mercy Corps
Ali* lives at the top of a hill at the end of a long, dusty dirt road. While in a beautiful setting, his community is poor and many families struggle to meet their needs. Ali and many others in the community use their kitchen gardens to provide their families with food, but he was once close to giving it up. Ali has an illness that makes it challenging for him to do manual labour, this has led him to find it difficult to maintain the kitchen garden that helps feed his family.
The irrigation system he received from Mercy Corps has eased the burden and allowed him to keep the garden going. While conflict is still rife in Syria, in areas that have become more stable, like this one, Mercy Corps is helping people move toward recovery with training, grants and agricultural supplies to build marketable livelihoods and boost agriculture.
This support has enabled Ali to keep his kitchen garden and grow a higher quantity and diversity of food for his family. Now he grows enough surplus that he can provide for his neighbours who are struggling. He gives the food to them for free, saying he knows the challenges people in his community are facing.
This support goes a long way in providing long term changes - giving those with kitchen gardens more independence, while providing communities with more food and wider variety to choose from.
*Names have been changed to protect identity and safety.