Syria Drought Response Plan 2009-2010

22 February 2010

A third consecutive year of drought has hit north-eastern Syria.  According to Government and UN estimates, 1.3 million inhabitants are affected and 800,000 severely affected, over 95% of whom live in the three governorates of Al-Hassake, Dayr az Zawr and Ar-Raqqa.  The effects of the drought are being exacerbated by the impact of high food and fuel prices, and the global financial crisis.  The result is a dramatic decrease in communities’ resilience and coping capacity.  The rural population directly affected by the drought has lost almost all sources of livelihood and faces extreme hardship. 

Up to 80% of those severely affected live mostly on a diet of bread and sugared tea, which is not enough to cover daily calorific and protein needs for a healthy life.   Direct consequences of the drought include decreased food intake, reduced capacity to restore livelihoods, massive internal displacement towards cities, and alarming school dropout rates in some areas.  Those affected cannot sustain or restore their livelihoods without emergency food assistance that is coupled with additional assistance, such as potable water, farming inputs and animal feed. 

In response to this crisis, and following the Government’s request, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) prepared the UN Syria Drought Response Plan (SDRP) in August 2009.  The SDRP aims to supplement and augment the response orchestrated by the Government of Syria.  The SDRP aims to address emergency humanitarian needs and reduce the drought’s impact on the most vulnerable –  300,000 people of the 800,000 severely affected.  The SDRP’s duration is linked to the agricultural calendar, with international assistance necessary until the next crops are harvested in May and June 2010. 

Insufficient donor response is the most significant obstacle to implementing planned actions in the 2009/2010 SDRP.  By the end of 2009, the appeal was only 14% funded. In response, the UNCT sought emergency funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  CERF is now the single largest donor to the SDRP.  Nine SDRP projects totaling 22% of the Response Plan’s original requirements have received no funding. 

This document allows for new analysis of humanitarian needs in view of the continuing drought.  It includes new rainfall data that gives a more positive outlook for an improved agricultural season during the 2009/2010 winter than was initially forecast.   However, the drought-affected population will remain in dire need of food, agriculture and other assistance until mid-2010, when crops are expected to mature.  Although the majority of planned response actions in the SDRP are still urgently required, some activities in this Mid-Term Review (MTR) have been reduced as the time for possible implementation is now only six months.

The UNCT established a Food Security Coordination Group.  Agencies participating in the SDRP are focusing their attention on the Al-Shaddadi district of Hassake Governorate as the area with the highest migration rate (see map on page 4).  This district will benefit from the coordinated activities of the agencies participating in the SDRP, as well as by key Government agencies.   All UN and Government of Syria stakeholders have agreed to target the same geographical areas as selected on the basis of joint criteria, and have set up effective coordination mechanisms.

The UN and its partners seek donor funding for continued humanitarian activities in north-eastern Syria to the revised amount of US$43,687,572  for the period December 2009 to June/July 2010.  This amount constitutes a 17.5% decrease from the SDRP's original requirements of $52,938,616.

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22 February 2010

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