Resilience in Adversity: A Path to Green Recovery

June 5, 2023

Marwan feeding the shredding machine with plastic waste in Deir EzZor

© UNDP Syria – Zuhir Al-Fourati

Marwan is a 45 years old man from the city of Mayadin in Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria. He used to go out every day in search of any work he could find to provide for his big family. He is married and is supporting a family of 11 people. In a country torn by twelve years of conflict, more than 15.3 million people need humanitarian assistance. It is reported that 85 percent of households are unable to meet basic needs. [1]

"I used to wander around the streets with no goal other than to bring back enough money for my family to get us through another day," says Marwan.

The idea of collecting and selling plastic crossed Marwan's mind when he saw how widespread plastic waste was on the streets of his city. He would go out early in the morning to collect plastic wherever he could find it and sell it as it is to recycling factories. "I knew how harmful plastic waste is for the environment. My initial desire was to earn some money by selling it. It is also good to utilize and reuse it instead of having it polluting our area,” says Marwan.

"I wanted to expand my work, but I did not have the resources until I heard from a friend about the Green Recovery project,” says Marwan. 

The Green Recovery project is implemented by the United Nations Development (UNDP) in Syria, with support from the Funding Window - Denmark. The project aims to enhance the role of social enterprises as an effective tool that contributes to offering sustainable solutions to support green recovery across Syria. The project provided small grants to help establish new social businesses or expand existing ones. In addition to funding, the selected projects received specialized training in marketing, communication, legal support and small business management, followed by counselling and mentoring throughout the implementation phase.

Marwan and his son Ahmad bagging shredded plastic

© UNDP Syria – Zuhir Al-Fourati

After receiving support, Marwan purchased a machine for grinding and crushing plastic waste, which helped him process and sell larger quantities to the factories instead of sending them in their original form. “I acquired the skills I needed and received support that enabled me to shred plastic waste and export it to recycling factories in other governorates, not just in my city. Before, it was difficult to ship large quantities because it took up a lot of space during shipping,” says Marwan 

Today, Marwan purchases plastic waste from different collectors in his city. He then grinds and sells it in large quantities. His son Mahmoud and his wife help him sometimes. “Today, I can support my family and provide a dignified life for them while I keep my city clean. Both the environment and I are benefiting from it," says Marwan with a smile on his face. His project is supporting more than 25 people.

Fifty seven people received support through the Green Recovery project, which enabled the advancement of 17 businesses that are now diligently working on reducing pollution and promoting environmental recovery.

[1] Syria Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) 2023

"I can support my family and provide a dignified life for them while I keep my city clean. Both the environment and I are benefiting from it"
Marwan from Deir ez-Zor