by Paivi Hurttia, IFRC

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent is helping conflict-affected people to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods by encouraging them to grow their own food – and sell the surplus crops.

Mrs Najah is one of the people benefiting from the Red Crescent home gardening project in Nahlaia village, where she has just returned with her nine children.

When Mrs Najah received the Red Crescent kit – seeds, fertilizers and gardening tools – she started immediately to cultivate her 400-square-metre garden and sowed zucchini, pumpkin, okra, cucumber and snake cucumber.

She managed to get a pretty good crop – 40 kilos of zucchini, 35 kilos of pumpkin, ten kilos of cucumber and snake cucumber, and two kilos of okra, although cucumber and okra did not do their best because of aphids.

Mrs Najah is happy with the Red Crescent support, her garden and plants. However, she would have started earlier if possible. “Also, the insects took their share,” she adds.

Mr Thaier and Mr Fadel also received home gardening kits to grow some food for their families. Mr Thaier was happy with the result, saying: “We could even save some of the vegetables for winter consumption.”

Both men worked for a textile factory before the crisis and they had to move with their families to another area. Now, they have resettled in Nahlaia village.

Mr Fadel said: “I am pleased with the help from the Red Crescent. I can also sell some of the crop.”

The project is just one part of Syrian Arab Red Crescent’s livelihoods projects, which have been running since 2015.

Currently, people receive home gardening kits and livestock in winter alongside a number of livelihoods interventions with support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the ICRC. The Syrian National Society also provides vocational training and the distribution of toolkits to improve labour integration for the most vulnerable people. Around 7,500 people are expected to benefit from these initiatives in 2017.