The main pillar of our holistic approach to supporting our community is the work done under the relief department. All our interventions within our relief projects aim to alleviate suffering and enhance living circumstances of the most vulnerable groups in the community while also contributing to three of the Sustainable Development Goals: No poverty, zero hunger, clean water, and sanitation.
Winters are particularly challenging, where camps are subject to floods and temperatures become freezing. Furthermore, the weather conditions are only adding to existing health concerns, which include malnutrition (most notably amongst babies and small children), illnesses, water and soil pollution, poor sanitary conditions, and waste management.
The relief department thus assists individuals and families residing in more than 40 camps in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon with shelter, energy, food, and basic assistance, including evacuations when conditions reach alarming levels. Before anything else, these are basic human needs, and they represent persistent concerns for many vulnerable individuals.
Conditions are harsh, these tented settlements are subjected to the natural elements while they are not equipped for long term inhabitancy.
Covid-19 Emergency Plan
The rapid spread of the coronavirus within Lebanon brought up several concerns for the refugee communities. They represent a very high-risk group in face of a pandemic due to several factors including overcrowded living conditions, high mobility, lack of sanitation and WASH, and lack of access to healthcare. As marginalized communities, they were also subjected to discriminatory policies. Sawa intervened as front-liners in order to mitigate the risk of a disastrous outbreak and to provide relief assistance through the following interventions
Awareness session were conducted regarding the coronavirus, preventions, best hygiene practices, symptoms, and measures to be taken when there is a case of Covid-19
Disinfection of tents, camps, and premises in collaboration with local volunteer groups and municipalities
Distribution of hygiene kits for households (in line with Sphere standards for hygiene promotion)
Distribution of food parcels to ensure food security for vulnerable families since all businesses are closed and individuals cannot
Ramadan Community Kitchen
In Ramadan Community Kitchen, each day, our team, along with members of the community, local and international volunteers, gather to prepare, cook, and distribute nutritious meals to vulnerable families and individuals in the community. Our vision was for everyone to come together and break their fast as a community, regardless of the circumstances.
This past year has marked the seventh edition is this gracious project, which continues to grow and expand its reach. Thanks to the generous donations we received, we were able to distribute meals to more than 6,000 individuals every day.
Winterization and Basic Assistance
We ensure that every person in the community receives winterization services and basic assistance throughout the year. Last year, we distributed clothing to 6000 individuals and 750 children in our retention support centers, Food baskets are also prepared monthly and contain essentials. 960 baskets were distributed in the last year, in addition to our bread distribution project, the Sawa Bakery, reaching more than 100,000 individuals.
For winterization assistance, we distributed fuel for heating, tent covers, and improved the infrastructure in the camps, reaching a total of 9000 individuals. We also support, in specific cases, caregivers of orphaned children by sourcing cash assistance. We are currently supporting 60 families monthly.
Last year, after harsh storms hit Lebanon, the refugee camps and informal tented settlements in the Beqaa Valley flooded, leaving thousands of people in even more dire circumstances.
Our relief team evacuated more than 600 families from 21 nearby camps to temporary shelters, including our centers, where we supported them with winterization items such as towels, blankets, mattresses, and heating.
women from the community set up a small kitchen in the temporary shelters, where they would come together and cook their food and distribute to all the affected families, showing resilience and commitment to their communities.