Since the start of the Syria crisis, Tartous has been one the most stable governorate and is thus a natural refuge for IDPs escaping nearby conflict areas. It is a home to approximately 452,000 IDPs who came mostly from Homs, Hama, Idleb, Aleppo, Ar-Raqqa, and Deir-Ez-Zor and reside in rented apartments and shelters.
Khawla is one of those IDPs who used to live with her family in Aleppo governorate in peace before the crisis. Their neighborhood became suddenly under siege and violence and they suffered from malnutrition and bad health conditions as they were unable to meet their basic daily needs of food and water. A year ago, when the conditions in their area became unbearable, they fled to Tartous governorate taking refuge in Al-Kharab area.
“One of my brothers is missing, and the second one has fled out of the country” said Khawla; the 21 year old single women who found herself the sole breadwinner of her family in spite of her young age. She was living in a small apartment with 12 members including the families of her both brothers. “The rent was very expensive and we no longer could afford it. I spent long time searching for a decent work but I had no previous experience” said Khalwa, adding “I never imagined that I’ll see my family in need for the basic things in life such as food, I had to find a job to save my family”.
In response to the dire situation of the IDPs in Tartous, UNDP implemented a mushroom cultivation project to provide job opportunities for IDPs and their host community members and enhance their living conditions. Mushroom cultivation can help reduce vulnerability to poverty and strengthens livelihoods through the generation of a fast yielding and nutritious source of food and a reliable source of income, in addition that it does not require access to land.
Khawla was one of the beneficiaries who joined the project from its early beginning. She is working eight hours per day in growing mushrooms and receiving a monthly wage that has significantly improved her conditions.
“Thanks to this project, I can buy food and clothes for my small brothers’ and help my family to pay the rent of our apartment” she said with a smile, adding “I also learnt new skills and got more experience in growing mushrooms, I feel I’m a productive person and I have more confidence in myself”.
The mushroom cultivating project helped creating 50 job opportunities for IDPs and their host community members, in addition to providing 1690 kg of mushrooms to the local market at reasonable prices.