Building sustainable livelihoods in northern Syria through livestock and agricultural support

Ten years on from the start of the crisis in Syria, Islamic Relief has been helping thousands of families uprooted from their homes to earn a living once more.

Abu Ziyad lost his son when his village was bombed and now cares for his orphaned grandchildren alone. Since fleeing their home, the family have fled again and again as community after community came under attack.

It has been particularly distressing for Abu Ziyad’s grandchildren, who have witnessed so many horrors.

Before the bombing, the grandfather was a sheep farmer, but he lost his herd during the airstrikes, and with it, his livelihood. Islamic Relief provided the grandfather with pregnant ewes to raise to produce milk to be sold at market. He now provides expert care for the sheep.

Caring for sheep

“We wake up early every morning to feed the sheep. We then milk them and take them out of the barn before cleaning them. We give them food at noon, and in the evenings we check them for signs of infection or illness.”

Soon after they arrived, the sheep gave birth. Abu Ziyad worked hard to milk the ewes, which meant he could produce cheese and milk to be sold for a profit. This gives him enough income to buy food to support his young family. In addition to this, the sheep provide enough milk for Abu Ziyad and his family to enjoy fresh and nutritious dairy products every day.

Becoming self-reliant once more

“When we first arrived, we had to rely on the food that other people gave us. We used to drink milk once a week, but now, thanks to God Almighty, we can make our own milk and cheese and buy other food, such as bread and vegetables. Thanks to this project, my grandchildren now drink milk every morning,” Abu Ziyad tells us.

The project has boosted the income of almost 2,000 families in northern Syria. They have received l livestock, fodder, vaccines, wheat seeds, and fertiliser to get them started. Islamic Relief also formed local committees, providing them farming training and advice on the local market to empower people to sell their produce for a profit. In addition our veterinary specialists and agricultural engineers provided practical advice.

It has had a particularly strong impact by easing the hardship of families facing the coronavirus pandemic, which has put immense strain on livelihoods. Throughout the region, breadwinners are forced to choose whether to go out to work and risk exposure to the virus, or stay at home and their children go hungry.

Families, particularly those with widows and orphans, now have the opportunity to earn an income from work that can be carried out alone, or with easily manageable social distancing.

Your support will mean the world to families like Abu Ziyad’s. It will enable us to continue to support families to build a reliable source of income upon which they can depend. As Abu Ziyad puts it, “We hope you will continue this project as it has had such a positive impact on the poor families who have suffered through this crisis.”

Read more in our report. Help us continue to be a lifeline for those still suffering: please donate to our Syria appeal.