UNDP steps up efforts to keep Syrians off their daily fare


Food insecurity in Syria has reached an all-time high amid a downward socioeconomic spiral, while humanitarian needs are at a peak. UNDP and other humanitarian partners are now ramping up their response, focusing on the most basic needs: affordable, daily bread.

Strengthening the wheat-to-bread chain

With an estimated 60 percent of Syrians currently food insecure, UNDP is working under the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to help the most vulnerable.

About 12.4 million people depend on bread from public bakeries to meet their minimum daily caloric intake. Through the HRP, UNDP and partners have launched a series of integrated humanitarian interventions to strengthen the wheat to bread value chain, which has been deeply disrupted by years of conflict and drought.

This includes supporting farming communities, restoring irrigation systems and restoring public bakeries across the country.

Baking bread, saving lives

It also includes the rehabilitation of the country’s only public yeast factory, located in Homs Governorate.

Before the crisis, Syria had four state-owned factories that supplied about 113 tons of yeast daily to an extensive network of public bakeries across the country.

Today, only the Homs factory remains, and it operates on a much smaller scale.

Only six to 10 tons of yeast — five to nine percent of pre-crisis production — are produced and distributed every day to public bakeries in Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Tartous and Lattakia provinces.

And there are no large, private yeast producers in the country.

This means that yeast will have to be imported at a high cost – given the acute devaluation of the Syrian pound – driving bread prices up as vulnerable households can only cover 50 percent of their basic costs.

Increasing yeast production in Homs represents “a major intervention to rapidly and significantly scale access to affordable bread” in these governorates, which, according to UNDP, contain about a third of the country’s food-insecure population targeted by the humanitarian response.

Cost of rehabilitation

Based on UNDP technical assessments, the recovery of the yeast plant in Homs will cost approximately $1 million, which will be split between the technical rehabilitation of the yeast processing (80 percent) and packaging equipment, plant safety and hygiene standards (20 percent).

Once done, the plant is expected to produce 24 tons of yeast daily for distribution to public bakeries in those areas and enable an additional three million vulnerable Syrians to pay for their daily bread.

© WFP/Hussam Al Saleh

Children receive bread from a bakery in Aleppo, Syria, where WFP helps with food distribution.

Giving priority to the needy

UNDP’s overarching goal in Syria is to deliver much-needed early recovery assistance to crisis-stricken populations.

Access to essential humanitarian services such as health care, education, safe water and affordable food are critical to the resilience of vulnerable Syrian communities.

UNDP prioritizes aid based on independent and thorough needs assessments, such as those presented in the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and UNDP’s specific studies and sector analyses.

The agency said it is “committed to addressing needs in a principled manner that promotes fundamental human rights and reduces the risks of its operations to ensure aid is needs-based, free of interference and in line with humanitarian principles”.

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