“We used to borrow money from friends and family, or even buy food on credit, to be able to afford food,” says one of the million Syrians struggling to secure food. To receive timely food assistance is essential for the people who can no longer put food on their tables. Food baskets can provide such emergency relief as well as empower people in their daily life. The food baskets help release money to be spent on other things, explained one parent. “After receiving the food baskets, I have a stable food source. The money I used to buy food I can now save to buy fuel or clothing for my children.” Bihar has distributed more than 30,000 food baskets.
In the most recent project, Bihar distributed 1,350 food baskets each month for four months. Each basket contains 17 different products including rice, lentils and oil. Several families said they expanded their diet with the content of the food baskets and increased their daily meals. “Since we received the food baskets we are having a more varied diet, especially when it comes to vegetables,” explained one family about how the food basket affected their eating habits. The project had 6,153 beneficiaries most of whom were under 18.
During the crisis in Kobane in late 2014, thousands of people were forced to flee. As one of the first humanitarian organisations offering relief Kobane, Bihar assisted with basic needs. This included providing hot meals to the people on both sides of the border between Syria and Turkey. In total 14,000 meals were distributed.
Bread is a staple food in Syria. Flat bread is eaten at almost every meal. Since the conflict began in 2011, a lack of bread availability has forced people to eat less and adapt their diet. Through a three part program, Bihar supported bakeries to produce bread for the communities in Afrin district.
One part of the program was to give flour directly to people with the technical capacity to bake bread but lacking the financial means to purchase the flour and other ingredents. The approach aimed to promote self-reliance and dignity.
For those purchasing bread, Bihar supported bakeries. Several bakeries were destroyed or unable to procure the necessary ingredients due to increased prices. These costs forced bakeries to increase prices and left many people unable to afford their daily bread. To help local communities, Bihar distributed flour to bakeries who in turn reduced their prices.
The last part of the program was to give bread to internally displaced people who couldn’t afford to buy bread, despite the reduced prices. In these cases, Bihar supported bakeries with all production factors, such as flour and wages for labour. The bread made was distributed to the most vulnerable in society. Around 3,230 tons of flour was distributed by June 2015 in this successful program.
During the summer of 2015, Bihar launched a new program on nutrition. The aim was to raise awareness on issues relating to Infant and Young Child Feeding as well as Acute Malnutrition and through this, create good micro-nutrition practices. About 56,160 people directly benefited, including women and children.