The SAWA Initiative has been designed for the period 2017-2021. In 2017, it has mobilized EUR 65 million of grant aid, including EUR 35 million from the Peace and Resilience Fund (launched this year to give AFD the means to work on reducing vulnerabilities and preventing crises) and EUR 30 million delegated by the European Commission.
For several years, the region has been the scene of a crisis which has led several million Syrians and Iraqis to flee their homes, causing population displacements both inside and outside their countries. The neighboring countries, receiving a massive influx of refugees, are facing strong social and economic tensions between host and refugee populations. This is especially the case at the local level, where the settlement of refugees leads to overloading essential public services. Syria and Iraq have been subject to massive destructions over the years. One of the major challenges for a sustainable stabilization of the region will lie in the establishment of an inclusive recovery process. This involves not only rebuilding infrastructure, but also developing fairer governance and supporting social cohesion.
SAWA, a new ambition for its actions in areas in crisis
In this context, AFD has launched the SAWA Initiative, which will focus on two priorities:
- An improvement of living conditions for the most vulnerable populations by providing access to essential services. The continuous population increase in urban areas hosting massive numbers of refugees (Northern Jordan, South-east and large cities in Turkey, nationwide in Lebanon) has put under pressure municipal infrastructure and services, including waste management, access to drinking water, electricity, urban development and health services. AFD aims to help these areas improve access to these essential services.
- Economic, social and political integration for the most vulnerable young people through education, vocational training and employment. Access to education and vocational training is a major challenge: in terms of social integration of refugees in host countries; in terms of contribution to the development of host communities; and in the long-term, in terms of economic and social reconstruction of post-conflict Syria. It implies integrating children in the education system and improving the employability of the most vulnerable young people, for which the unemployment rate is particularly high. In Iraq, the challenge will be to ensure that reconstruction activities create employment in order to encourage the return of displaced populations and the restauration of the local economic fabric. The Initiative’s actions will promote social cohesion and the participation of young people in public life, especially at the local level.
“SAWA” means “together” in Arabic – reflecting the issue of social cohesion in the region, as well as the partnership ambition of this commitment, which will conduct consistent operations adapted to the regional challenges. This Initiative aims to ensure an effective coordination between emergency humanitarian operations and development actions, to work for social cohesion between host and refugee populations, and to strengthen actors at the local level, in line with the national policy framework.
AFD is introducing a new ambition for its actions in areas in crisis. Breaking with the intervention-by-country logic, the Initiatives are characterized by the will to act at the scale of the crisis zones, taken as a whole. AFD is mobilizing local and international actors to ensure a response to the needs of the populations – a prerequisite for strengthening peace in these areas.
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