BINAA’S HOUSE REHABILITATION INITIATIVE – A MISSION TO SECURE A DIGNIFIED LIFE FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE
Helping internally displaced people and their host communities are at the core of all the projects and initiatives undertaken by BINAA for Development: the Organization prioritizes and focuses on initiatives that address the daily difficulties faced by these communities. The provision of adequate housing for displaced people is one of the most pressing problems and BINAA’s goal is to rehabilitate and repair damaged or uncompleted buildings that can be used to house thousands of displaced families in northwestern Syria. After a decade of continuous conflict in the country, securing such housing for is a vital humanitarian need.
Thousands of people who fled bombings and destruction took refuge in damaged or uncompleted houses and buildings as a temporary measure; over time, these substandard structures became permanent residences for people who had lost homes and livelihoods.
As families who were driven from their own homes sought refuge, they were forced to shelter in damaged houses that lacked floors, windows, or even complete walls. The structures had no electricity or water – no bathrooms or other basics. But displaced families were left without options. These cement blocks barely provided shelter against cold and rain, but they became, in time, permanent homes for thousands.
Funded by Global Communities, BINAA undertook an initiative to restore damaged and incomplete structures.
Mr. F. Muhammad, a beneficiary of this project, described to the BINAA team the difficult conditions his family endured in one such house, prior to its restoration. Mr. Muhammad said, “This was our home for a long time, but I could not repair it. There were no windows or doors.”
Mr. Muhammad, who has had a disability in his right hand since birth, made repeated attempts to keep the structure livable and warm for his family during the harsh winter. “It was difficult”, he said,
“with no doors and no windows, the cold almost killed us. We put blankets and covers [covering the windows and doors] but it was useless.”
Thousands of families are living this same crisis. With no reliable source of livelihood, there is no chance of renting a home in better condition – even if such a home could be found. BINAA uses available resources – in this case, the existing structures – and improves living conditions for these families, in the housing where they reside.
Emphasizing the value of this project, Amer, an engineer and a member of the BINAA restoration team, said, “Most of these houses lacked windows and doors... and most are not fit for habitation in their current condition.”
"We provide more than 70% of the restoration and finishing needs of those damaged houses,” he added.
According to Amer, this project fulfills a vital basic need for the residents. He says, “The project is very important...it is as important as bread."
After the renovation work, conditions in Mr. Muhammad’s home are much better. “Currently the house is good, thank God. They installed the doors and windows and there’s a huge difference.” He tells us this, and then recalls how he lived through the past year. “We went through a cold winter... we used to live in the dust [the house had no flooring] ... Now they have floored the house, including all the rooms and the kitchen.”
This initiative has succeeded in sheltering 930 displaced families, comprising 4,650 people, in renovated houses. Those families were residing in camps – some living in schools and other facilities – across seven areas in the Idlib countryside, including Salqin, Harem, Kafardian, Al-Dana and Sarmada. The beneficiary families can stay rent-free in these rooms for an entire year; for instance, a family of five is allocated one room.
The most important objective of the restoration project is to improve living conditions for displaced people and, to the extent possible, restore some normality to their lives. Thanks to this project, many families can now sleep in a simple but functional home, one that offers them some of the warmth, security and privacy that are among the basic needs of every human being.
The renovation initiative is conducted in conjunction with a number of other projects launched by BINAA to improve the living conditions for residents in northern Syria’s camps, including the rehabilitation and paving of roads in the camps; the extension of water, sewage and rainwater drainage networks; and other high priority services related to camp conditions and residents’ needs.
This initiative and the campaigns and projects associated with it contributed to saving tens of thousands of displaced people from the cold and rain in the winter, and the extreme heat in the summer. The number of beneficiaries will increase significantly if BINAA and other organizations working in this field succeed in mobilizing more support from donors and partners.