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Jobs that help neighbourhoods recover from the earthquakes

Following the earthquakes that hit Syria and Türkiye earlier this year, ILO infrastructure recovery works engaged communities in clearing debris and rubble in Aleppo, making many streets accessible and creating hundreds of short-term jobs

Press release | 03 August 2023
ALEPPO (ILO News) - After the earthquakes that hit parts of Syria in February 2023, the International Labour Organization (ILO) initiated employment-intensive infrastructure recovery works in Aleppo, in partnership with COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale), to help restore the livelihoods of people in affected communities.

As of late July, 29 sites in Aleppo’s Al-Salheen and Al-Fardous neighbourhoods have been cleared of debris and rubble, making 45 streets in an area covering 5,600 square metres accessible to local communities. A total of 6,600 workdays for 100 workers have been created so far. Communities have benefited from both decent job opportunities and recovery of local infrastructure.

We asked a few of Aleppo’s residents who participated in or benefited from the recovery works about their experiences in the initiative.

Zakaria, community worker:

“I left school at an early age. I have limited skills and experiences. But I am the only breadwinner in my family. I learned about this opportunity through one of the neighbours in the area. I joined this ILO project, and it allowed me to help my family financially. I found that this job provided a fair income, and a safe working environment which was monitored by the designated safety workers. We received personal protective equipment and injury insurance.”

Architect Latifa Mohammad, site supervisor



“When I got this opportunity, I felt a mix of happiness and fear. I was happy because I was about to start my first job and get experience for the future, and this will help me with future job opportunities. My fears firstly concerned safety, because we were operating in area with the debris of an earthquake, which could be dangerous. But on the ground, I found that there were full safety precautions for the workers and for me, and this gave a sense of security for me and the workers.

My other worry related to my being a female at my first job. I had fears about me being a female (working in a situation of) hardship. But when I got to the site of work, I found that there was flexibility, and cooperation between the teams. This is also our city, we are residents of one neighbourhood, so we found acceptance from the community.”

Engineer Thaer Rahal, Director of the Municipality's Services in the Bab Al-Nayrab district

“Due to the presence of rubble for several months in many narrow streets where we could not bring in machinery, in addition to the lack of a sufficient number of workers within the Municipality Services Directorate, it was difficult for the Directorate to remove rubble quickly. The idea of removing the rubble by labour provided a great service to the area, enhancing the safety of the communities by removing the damage that threatened public safety in the area.”

“There is a great need for labour-intensive interventions in the Al-Fardous and Al-Salheen areas due to the overpopulation of the area and inaccessibility of heavy machinery, and the presence of many buildings, some of which pose a threat to public safety.”

Imad, owner of a perfume shop in the Al-Fardous souk

“My shop was closed for six months due to the accumulation of rubble in the area. I submitted many complaints to the competent municipality, but due to the lack of resources, these requests were not answered. I could only reopen my main source of livelihood after the removal of rubble in front of my shop.”
“I received great understanding and cooperation from the working groups on site that secured a temporary entrance to my shop during their works. I noticed an increase in pedestrian and car traffic. Cars are now able to enter the market after the main road to the market reopened. I am thankful for this work.”

Next steps

Skills development and employability enhancement of workers are the ILO’s “exit strategy” for the beneficiaries who had undertaken the community safety recovery works. Temporary workers who are willing to work and learn more will be provided with Work-Based Learning (WBL) opportunities through a wage subsidy scheme in partnership with local enterprises.
At least 100 selected beneficiaries will be supported to transition to a formal job or self-employment through an apprenticeship programme, as agreed between the ILO and employers interested in recruiting them. The selection will be made based on skills, labour market demands, and the aspirations of the workers.