How the Syria Food For Peace project is helping families

What would you do if your grocery bill dropped by 66% this month? Where would the extra income go?

What would you do if your grocery bill dropped by 66% this month? Where would the extra income go? For families in Syria—who are now buying bread for 5 Turkish Lira instead of 15—they spent money on 3 things: more and better food, paying off debts, and health care. This was especially important for bigger families, who benefitted even more from lower prices.

How does that happen? By thinking about the whole food system—from farmers growing wheat to the people who grind flours to the bakers making bread to the people who have cash to buy it. That’s how you can get better supply, better demand, and better meals for everyone.

The third phase of the Syria Food for Peace – Emergency and Regular Food Assistance in Syria project reached 225,000 people directly with $22.7 million from the US Bureau for Humanitarian Affairs between July 2020 and September 2021. This is the third phase of the project, building on previous years and experience from CARE and our partners. Ihsan Relief and Development, Insani Yardimlasma Dernegi (IYD) Humanitarian Relief Association, Shafak, and Syria Relieve all partnered with CARE on the project to reach people who need it.

What changed?

  • Fewer people are hungry. Families are 71% more likely to say that they don’t have hunger in their households with the project.
  • People ate more, better food. 86% of people say they could buy more food. 80% said they could also buy better quality food than they could without the project. For example, before the project
  • Farmers are growing more wheat. 23% of farmers said they were able to grow more by expanding the land they plant wheat on. 13% said they invested in fertilizer, and 7% used money from the project to buy better quality seeds so they can grow more food.
  • Businesses are stronger. Bakeries, agriculture suppliers, and mills for wheat all said that they had more regular cash flows and were able to stock more—and a better variety—of products because their incomes were more consistent and predictable.
  • Women have more opportunities. 97% of women said the cash for work opportunities helped women—both to earn and income and to change their idea of what was possible for them. For example, one woman explained how she still benefitted from her family’s approval and pride in her, motivating her to look for another job opportunity.

How did it happen?

  • Give cash. Cash—especially consistent cash flow over several months—helped families meet needs and plan for expenses. 99% of people used their cash to buy food; 78% used some of their cash to pay off debts, and 61% used cash to pay for health care and medicine. Participants preferred cash and vouchers to getting goods.
  • Be transparent and timely. 98% of people said the participant selection processes was fair, and 99% said cash came at the time that helped them most.
  • Ask people what they want. The project did several needs assessments and checked in with people often. They also built on learning from previous project phases. 76% of participants said someone had asked them what they needed.
  • Be open to feedback. 97% of people said they were comfortable raising concerns about the project if they had any. There were a variety of ways participants could tell the project what needed to change. 86% of people mentioned whatsapp as the tool that worked for them, and 36% liked having suggestion boxes available.
  • Invest in collaboration with partners. The project worked closely with local partners—who have strong track records of success and know the local context. They also coordinated with local leaders and the UN system to make sure that the projects were not duplicating work from any other actors.
  • Build businesses with supply and demand. The project helped connect farmers who grew more wheat (using support from the project) with stronger mills and bakeries (that the project helped rehabilitate) who sold bread to participants who got cash support from the project. That means the whole supply chain connected to raise incomes and lower costs for families to eat.

Want to learn more?

Check out the final evaluation.