UN-Habitat's “Neighbourhood Approach

UN-Habitat’s Syria programme is being built upon a "Neighbourhood Approach". This approach is illustrated using the example of Salah Ad-Deen on page 3 and 4. The four components are described below. First, City Profiles provide an overview of the impact of the crisis on the city as a whole. They help identify the neighbourhoods where humanitarian needs are concentrated, but also areas where recovery is possible. Community based approaches help identify the most vulnerable households. Second, UN-Habitat uses a system of block grants to implement projects that respond directly to priorities identified by communities and local authorities.

Key sectors include shelter, water supply, sanitation, solid waste, local economic recovery and community infrastructure. Third, the Neighbourhood Approach provides capacity-building support to communities and local authorities. Specific areas include project management, community audit of NGO-implemented projects, recovery planning, local economic development and skills training with a specific focus on youth. Finally, the approach aims to link communities and local authorities to other organizations to address priorities that are outside UN-Habitat’s mandate or expertise. The neighbourhood plan is shared with other actors who may be in a position to support the community.

Urban Functionality in the Old City of Homs

Following the agreement on the Old City of Homs in May 2014, UN-Habitat conducted an "urban functionality" analysis at the neighbourhood level in different sectors. Examples from accessibility, water, sanitation and electricity are illustrated here. Three categories were used. "Not functional" means that the sector or service has suffered severe damage and is not operational. "Partially functional" means that the sector or service may have suffered damage in specific areas of the neighbourhood, while other areas may be less damaged or receiving some limited service.

"Affected functionality" means that the sector or service has not been significantly damaged, but is coping with the strain due to an influx of IDPs. More generally, UN-Habitat is also applying the concept of "urban functionality" as an aggregate indicator of the quality of life in neighbourhoods. When applied at the neighbourhood level, urban functionality is determined by assessing conditions in four key areas: housing, infrastructure, services and local markets. In 2015, UN-Habitat will be reviewing the concept of urban functionality to further improve the targeting of humanitarian and recovery interventions.

Rapid City Profiles

Five Rapid City Profiles (RCP) were developed during 2014 for Homs, Aleppo, Dara'a Latakia and Deir-ez-Zour analysing the impacts of the crisis on each city. RCPs provide a comprehensive analysis of displacement trends, housing, water supply, sanitation, road networks, electricity, health, education, food security, mobility. RCPs highlight "hotspots" where the population vulnerability is acute. By overlaying information on population, damage, and sectoral issues, the profiles provide useful insights into how people in different neighbourhoods are coping with the crisis. This in turn helps humanitarian and recovery actors to prioritise their response.

Shelter Support and Needs Assessment

Based on the findings of the City Profiles, a more in-depth neighbourhood level shelter needs assessment was conducted in Al Tal, Ma'raba and Ashrafyat Sahnaya in Rural Damascus as well as in Salah Ad- Deen neighbourhood of Aleppo. Based on the assessment in Aleppo, UN-Habitat piloted an IDP-host families shelter support programme which responded to priority needs including minor repairs, rent support and provision of simple household equipment.

Community Initiatives UN-Habitat has implemented community level projects to support infrastructure and basic services in Aleppo.

Two pilot projects were implemented benefiting 8,000 IDPs and host community members. In cooperation with a national NGO (Al Taalof). Consultation meetings were organised with the community to identify and agree on immediate priorities. The scope of the implemented works was to improve accessibility to safe drinking and domestic water through the construction of a storage tank, provide safer sanitation in the local school and to improve mobility and access by rehabilitating the only remaining entrance which was severely affected by conflict-related damage.

Emergency Urban Information

System A web-based urban information management system has been established to track the changing impact of the crisis.The database structure is designed to capture information on changes in the demography, shelter, infrastructure, public services, markets and prices, and active assistance. The resulting information is mapped to support the prioritization of interventions by humanitarian and recovery actors. Furthermore, two information management units were established within IDPs hosting community cities (Latakia and Ma'raba in Rif Damascus) and staff has received training on operating and managing the system. A national training validated the database structure.