Human Appeal Staff at Bakery near Syrian Border

by Lúgh ó Braonáin

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As you know, one of Human Appeal's most effective aid projects is the distribution of flour to families displaced by the conflict in Syria. However, what you may not realise is that our staff on the ground by experiencing the local conditions have identified the most effective ways to get your aid to where it's needed most. Last month, some of our Irish staff and volunteers found out how this is done.

Salah carries a 20kg Sack of Flour into the Bakery

The 1,000 tonnes that through your donations you helped to provide are purchased locally in Turkey so as to reduce as far as possible any transport costs. The highest quality flour is also bought at best value for money prices to stretch your donations further. The flour, like all our food aid is clearly marked with the Human Appeal labelling which prevents it being sold by third parties and therefore can only be given out by our staff. However, as many of the families to receive the flour do not have the cooking facilities to bake with it, Human Appeal has entered into a partnership with local bakeries. These partners turn the flour (at cost price) into the local flatbread which is a staple food of the Syrian people.

This means that the neediest families have access to the bread in the form that is most beneficial to them.

Local staff - many of them victims of the conflict -  are employed in the bakery

A further benefit of this approach is that we contribute to employment through the bakeries.

On our visit to one such bakery we met people working there who had all suffered greatly from the conflict: a former policeman and a former soldier who had left the Syrian Army, amongst them. The wife of another worker had recently given birth to twins. This had placed the typical demands on the family that young children bring. The twins had been named Nooreldeen and Hussein: after two of the father's relatives killed in the fighting.

The terrible events of the last few years have brought suffering and have turned many Syrians' lives upside-down: however, through your continuing generosity, some of these victims of strife have found employment in helping turn your donations into a vital source of food.

Untied Aid

The process of purchasing aid in the donor country and transporting it to places suffering from humanitarian disasters in called 'Tied Aid'. While very welcome to those who receive it, this form of aid is perhaps less helpful than the alternative 'Untied Aid'. Untied aid involves the purchase of essentials as close as possible to the recipient country. Any additional work that is required to process the aid (as is the case with our flour) is carried out, where possible, by those suffering from the disaster. In this way, transport costs are reduced and there is an additional 'trickle-down' benefit to the local area in terms of employment.

Gaza workshop where our local staff construct the homes for those displaced by last year's fighting

The Human Appeal Ireland Gaza 100 Home Irish Village initiative is another example of this 'Untied Aid': the prefabricated houses are all constructed in Gaza by local builders. At a cost of €6000 per 4-roomed house this represents a significant saving on the cost of a similar building anywhere in the EU. Transport costs are also almost completely eliminated.

Human Appeal Staff mixing dough for the Syrian flat bread

On their visit to the Syrian border, our staff found that this approach to aid distribution works well: with your help, we hope it will continue.


DONATE NOW | or Call: 01 291 0006 to donate by phone.