NEF Commits to Support Syrian Refugees and their Host Communities


MARRAKECH, Morocco – May, 2015 – NEF announced at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Middle East & Africa Meeting our Commitment to Action to build economic resilience among urban refugees and poor members of their host communities in Jordan and Lebanon.

In partnership with local community organizations, we will establish three support centers to equip more than 2,000 people with the tools and training for dignified, long-term economic self-sufficiency through small business grants, skills training and community support.

The Syrian refugee crisis has plunged more than 170,000 Lebanese into poverty and is exerting stresses on Jordan’s stretched resources, costing the government $7 billion to date. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Syrian refugees are food insecure and 77 percent are in debt, pushing many families to resort to harmful earning strategies. Children contribute nearly half of household incomes among refugee families living outside camps, and a quarter of refugee families are headed by women, many of whom are earning for the first time.

Building on NEF’s successful work with Iraqi refugees in Zarqa, Jordan, the Siraj Centers, named for the Arabic word for “lantern,” will provide a safe space for women refugees and poor members of host communities to come together and extend mutual support. Jordanian and Lebanese participants will also be eligible to compete for grants to start-up or expand small businesses. For refugees, whose right to work in formal sectors is limited, Siraj Centers will provide economic and livelihood services such as life skills, vocational and financial literacy training, as well as cash assistance.

Here is the full text of our commitment:

Building Resilience of Refugees and Host Communities
Commitment By: Near East Foundation

In 2015, The Near East Foundation will establish three “Siraj Centers” to build the economic self-reliance of 2,250 people in Lebanon and Jordan. The centers will serve as safe spaces where Syrian refugees, and vulnerable Lebanese and Jordanian people can access financial education services or start income-generating activities with access to training, information and financial resources. This investment in education and workforce development will further the Near East Foundation’s goal of providing long-term solutions for refugees and vulnerable people to safely support their families and their communities.

Access to Education in Rural Morocco

Donor: Big Lottery Fund
The Near East Foundation UK (NEF-UK) and its Morocco-based partners, NEF Morocco and Tichka Association aim to improve access to and quality of primary education for poor girls and boys in 14 villages in the Ouarzazate Province of southern-central Morocco. Building on a successful model piloted by NEF Morocco, we will achieve this by strengthening parent-teacher associations, designing child-led extra-curricular activities, and engaging disadvantaged parents to send their children regularly to school and enroll children who would not otherwise enroll.
The project will work in partnership with 6 “mother” school villages and 8 “satellite” school villages; targeting approximately 1,550 primary school-aged children (1st through 6th grades) — 10 per cent estimated not to be attending schools. Selected project activities will engage a further 10 “satellite” schools; supporting additional 550 primary school-aged children.

In total, about 2,100 primary school-aged children will benefit from improved access to a quality primary education. The project will increase children’s enrolment among children that are not attending schools, reduce dropouts and increase attendance among children at risk of dropouts or those not attending schools regularly, and increase parental engagement leading to higher performance in education among school children.

 We will build the skills of PTAs at 14 primary schools to engage in civic processes, consensus building and group processes with school management and other actors; and to develop fundraising, administrative and financial management, and communication plans that are supportive of quality and accessibility of primary education for 2,100 school-aged children. We will also increase by 70 per cent the level of understanding of rural cultural environment among teachers and SMBs linked to teachers’ absenteeism. We will improve by 50 per cent the representation of women and disadvantaged families at PTAs. We will also enable PTAs at 14 primary schools to start and sustain social businesses that can generate social and income returns used to support school improvements and to tackle barriers to education benefiting 1,550 primary school-aged children.
We will facilitate the formation of 14 women-led groups or associations led by at least 28 women leaders. We will build their skills to be able to tackle root causes of non-attendance, increase primary school attendance, address social norms and traditions, reduce child labour and promote the recognition of the value of education, especially for girls. We will enable disadvantaged families and other community members to engage in 34 school-hosted community engagement events that can help close the psychological and social gap between the school and the community and reconnect schools with their socio-cultural environment. Sixty per cent of community members will experience tangible change through increased skills, understanding and platforms to engage in inclusive discourse and develop plans to address barriers constraining school-aged children to attend primary schools. We will also facilitate 14 cross-disciplinary joint actions, 3 exchange visits, 2 roundtables and 1 learning paper in project areas to engage in inclusive discourse on the root causes of non-attendance and dropouts at 24 primary schools and overall primary education in rural Morocco.
This model has a high potential for replication and presents an added value for joint action.