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Needs of households and workers in Syria

Earthquake adds further financial burden to already struggling households and workers in Aleppo

Many families are facing difficulties finding work and a stable source of income following the earthquake which hit the Syrian city of Aleppo in February 2023.

Press release | 14 August 2023
DAMASCUS (ILO News) – A new ILO assessment of the needs of households and workers affected by the earthquake in the Syrian City of Aleppo in February 2023, found that before the earthquake, 88 per cent of surveyed households considered their income insufficient to meet the cost of living, with the figure rising to over 95 per cent after the earthquake.

The earthquake has increased the percentage of households with a monthly income of less than 200,000 Syrian Pounds (USD 20-30) from 39.5 per cent prior to the earthquake to 51.7 per cent after the earthquake. Most surveyed households (64 per cent) reported a decrease in their monthly income after the earthquake, and their percentage was higher in the lower income categories.

To compensate for the income shortage, households use adaptive strategies, including borrowing, undertaking multiple jobs, and opting for less preferred and lower-quality food to cope.

Around 11 per cent of the families in the sample have children engaged in child labour, with lack of sufficient income being a major obstacle to their children's education. The loss of income due to the earthquake has increased this obstacle.

About 28.6 per cent of employed individuals in the sample lost their job or their work was impacted as a result of the earthquake, with the majority indicating that they did not have any form of insurance to protect them against injury or job loss.

The results of the assessment show that the most pressing challenge facing households after the earthquake was the difficulty in finding work and a stable source of income, according to 75 per cent of survey respondents. Providing food was another top priority at all levels, followed by having appropriate work to bridge the income gap.

In terms of preferred forms of support needed to restore livelihoods, approximately 34 per cent of the sample said their priority would be training on a new skill as an entry point to job opportunities, and around 34 per cent chose funding for small income-generating opportunities.

About 43 per cent preferred to work in the industrial sector, followed by social services related to health (12 per cent), agriculture (10 per cent), and telecommunications, and computer services sectors (10 per cent).

The survey results aim to provide insight into the impact of the earthquake on workers, livelihoods and sources of income. It also seeks to identify relevant entry points for building interventions that can be included in ILO’s employment- intensive approach.

The data from the assessment is based on a survey sample of 402 households representing over 2,000 individuals in Aleppo. Around 55 per cent of those surveyed were in the working age population (individuals aged 15- 64 years old), with as many as 32 per cent employed. The results of the survey were complemented by data from national surveys on Aleppo’s economic structure prior to the earthquake, labour market indicators and the socio-economic impact of the earthquake on the Aleppo Governorate.

The assessment provides a number of recommendations for the way forward. These include rehabilitating damaged social service centres, especially schools, health centres, and other social and economic infrastructures, to support affected families meet their urgent needs. It also includes developing and coordinating efforts between various potential actors and establishing a mechanism to connect job seekers with the labour market and the business sector through on-the-job training programmes and wage support, and reviewing regulations and systems related to the minimum wage to be compatible with the minimum standard of living situation in Syria.

The ILO is already engaging with partners in implementing an employment- intensive programme in Aleppo, that is creating decent job opportunities through community infrastructure works. Income generation and decent work, coupled with building skills and improving working conditions are top priorities in supporting longer-term solutions to the livelihoods of workers and their families most impacted by the earthquake.