Emergency employment yields a healthier environment for Syrians

Syrian waste management worker
In Aleppo, Syria a worker picks up solid waste through UNDP's emergency employment project providing temporary jobs to people affected by the conflict. Photo: UNDP in Syria

Mohammad was one of the Syrian citizens who never thought that the escalating hostilities would force him out of his home. Living in a hard-to-reach area of Aleppo, one of the governorates most affected by the ongoing crisis, his family faced extremely difficult conditions due to the lack of basic goods, the ongoing violence, and the deterioration of health care.

“My three-year-old daughter has cancer, and she needs radiotherapy in Damascus which I can’t afford,” he said.


  • 13,770 one-month employment opportunities created (of which 788 went to women)
  • 154,806 tons of solid waste removed in more than 250 neighbourhoods and collective shelters
  • 174 hygiene workshops held in Dar’a, Deir-Ez-Zor, Hama and Tartous, with 4,735 attendees

Many of his fellow residents were forced to leave their houses and properties, fleeing to shelters and host communities in safer areas within Aleppo Governorate. Mohammad ended up in a shelter with his wife and six children, but living conditions were still difficult. Two years without job, Mohammad’s family lived in extreme poverty with no beds or blankets to protect them from the cold winter.

A year ago, Mohammad joined the solid waste project implemented by UNDP in Aleppo. Part of the “Emergency Assistance for the Restoration/Stabilization of Livelihoods” programme, the waste management project is one of many projects providing emergency employment opportunities for people in areas witnessing conflict.

The influx of internally displaced people (IDP) into safer rural areas and central governorates, such as Damascus, Aleppo and Idlib, increased the accumulation of solid waste, causing serious environmental pollution. Additionally, 2.67 million people lost their jobs during the conflict, leaving them in need of income to survive.

These conditions prompted UNDP to scale up its early recovery and resilience interventions, targeting the most affected neighbourhoods by providing job opportunities in the field of solid waste removal to a number of affected IDPs and host community members. The waste management workers collect garbage piles from streets and neighbourhoods that cannot be reached by the municipal trucks (mainly in shelters and rural areas) and dispose them in central areas for the trucks to collect.

The wages Mohammad received have significantly improved his living conditions and helped him provide basic needs for his family.

“It was impossible for us to find a proper job in this dire situation,” Mohammad said. “Thanks to the solid waste project, I’m capable now of traveling to the medical centre in Damascus so my little daughter can finalize her radiotherapy sessions. This will save her life.”

The solid waste project in Aleppo provided 2,945 one-month job opportunities and removed 36,207 tons of waste, allowing 16 neighbourhoods to enjoy better and healthier environments. The total duration for workers is usually four months, as it is considered an emergency employment opportunity, but can be extended to six to nine months due to the needs of the local community.

“We hope that this project will continue,” Mohammad added. “We appreciate the benefits we have gained so far. Our surroundings have also become cleaner.”

Similar projects were implemented in other governorates in Syria, providing a total of 13,770 one-month employment opportunities (of which 788 went to women). 154,806 tons of solid waste were removed in more than 250 neighbourhoods and collective shelters, reducing environmental pollution and the spread of epidemics and diseases. In addition, 174 hygiene workshops were held in Dar’a, Deir-Ez-Zor, Hama and Tartous, with 4,735 attendees.

UNDP Around the world