Providing Renewable Energy
Salamieh faces acute energy and fuel shortages as a lasting effect of infrastructure damaged by conflict, energy resources falling out of government control and international sanctions. The influx of internally displaced people and of returnees to their settlements further stresses weakened infrastructure, aggravating shortages and leading to rationing and unstable supply. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the impact of electricity outages on critical services and livelihoods.
AKAH is partnering with communities to expand access to alternative energy solutions. In 2021, we supported several local interventions in order to give vulnerable families safe access to basic social services. These interventions focused on providing solar energy systems to households for agricultural activities and community health facilities.
In Salamieh and Tartus, we are working to provide 900 families with access to household solar power systems to cope with energy shortages and instability. The systems provide power for lighting and running basic household appliances in a context where homes are often without power for 20 hours a day. We work with the First Microfinance Institution Syria to provide access to affordable financing for these household units.
Together with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), we are focusing on communities in Salamieh District hosting significant returnee populations. We are helping farmers rebuild their livelihoods; promoting tree cultivation, which consumes less water than other crops; and promoting responsible groundwater management. We are also supporting farmers to install and operate solar power systems for irrigation.
Working with Communities to Plant Trees
AKAH is helping communities transition towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. Together we have planted 9,200 trees in Salamieh City, along street dividers and sidewalks and in local parks and school gardens. These increase the green spaces and recreational areas around the city.
The tree species, planting modalities and watering methodology was informed by scientific soil tests and location analysis. The communities then planted the trees based on this analysis and are responsible for protecting and maintaining the plantations.
This initiative is anchored in a high level of community engagement. It depends on local associations as implementing partners. Around 360 volunteers were involved in the tree planting campaign.
The initiative included an awareness-raising campaign targeting 80 children aged six to 13. After learning about waste disposal, recycling, gardening and composting, the children produced artwork to promote greener practices and environmental conservation.
Implementing Green Habitat Technologies
We work with local communities and universities to revive earth architecture. We are providing training for architects and engineers on the use of compressed stabilised earth blocks for housing. We tested local soils and different designs to develop the most suitable solutions for the local context and are integrating these blocks in home designs adapted to local needs and climate.
Improving Access to Water and Sanitation
Like many parts of Syria, Salamieh faces water scarcity after decades of drought, disruption caused by the conflict, pressure due to migration and the impact of climate change straining weakened or destroyed infrastructure. We are working with local communities to provide humanitarian water trucking services in four sub-districts of Salamieh: As-Saan, As-Salamiyeh, Eastern Bari and Sabboura. These provide around 75,000 people with 150 m3/day of clean water.
Water is tested at various steps of the trucking process from filling through to distribution, to ensure adherence to water safety measures. Water is distributed to household-level tanks, community water reservoirs installed by AKF and community water tanks, following strict health and hygiene protocols. We have introduced focus groups and other feedback mechanisms, enabling beneficiaries to share suggestions and complaints to improve service provision. Communities report a high level of satisfaction with the water service.
Water trucking, though a vital emergency service, is only a temporary solution. Together with local communities, we are introducing more sustainable measures to improve access to water in the medium to long term. We have conducted integrated groundwater management and modelling studies. These assessed and mapped water resources and modelled future water demand in Salamieh. We are using these studies to develop scientific solutions to mitigate the risk of water scarcity and inform sustainable, community-led water management and water conservation measures.
To promote water conservation and secure alternative sources of water, AKAH is implementing roof rainwater harvest pilot projects in several sub-districts of Salamieh. Rainwater harvesting is an effective system where rainwater is collected and filtered in an underground tank to be used for household-level irrigation and drinking purposes. These systems can help households cover shortages in water supply. As part of the pilot, we are promoting practices to encourage responsible use and recharge of water sources. Together with local communities, we have identified vulnerable households that do not have access to sufficient water sources, to install demonstration systems. System and tank design is adapted to the ground and soil features of the area. The overall volume of the tank is determined, taking into account family size and estimated rainfall in the area. We are assessing and documenting the experience of these demonstration pilots and promoting wider adoption, including providing training to households on installation and maintenance.
Promoting Responsible Waste Management and Recycling
In Salamieh City, we are working with local communities to improve solid waste management and introduce sorting and recycling practices. This contributes to a cleaner, healthier urban environment.
Due to limited resources, capacity and infrastructure, the collection, transfer and treatment of solid waste in Salamieh City is inadequate. This creates environmental and health and hygiene problems. We engaged volunteers from the local community through cash-for-work arrangements to collect and sort solid waste in their communities, introducing better standards and practices for waste collection and disposal. We are implementing a wider awareness-raising campaign to promote environmentally responsible behaviours and engage all community members in better waste management in their neighbourhoods. We are also working with a local community-based organisation to introduce a sorting and recycling pilot project.