Since last February nine Community Based Initiatives took place in Karm AL-Sabbagh neighborhood in east Aleppo to fix lights on columns and walls at the crossings around the streets.
The scale of destruction in Karm Al-Sabbgh neighborhood and other neigborhouds in east Aleppo is massive and needs enormous help, requiring a comprehensive approach and modality for reconstruction in supporting basic services and critical infrastructure in areas such as water and sanitation, electricity and livelihoods.
Street lights initiatives led by UNHCR’s Namaa Charity outreach volunteers would change the quality of life for 130 families about 560 displaced people who returned recently to their houses in Karm Al-Sabbagh.
Each initiative was implemented by a group of five persons who took the responsibility for fixing lights in suitable places and connect them to the local electricity generators running in the neighborhood. UNHCR provided LED lens solar, wires, and all needed fastening materials, while electricity was provided by the owners of generators for free, “The running cost of the lights is very small, they consume very little. I am glad to provide those lights with electricity from my generator”, said Muhammad, the owner of an electricity generator residing in Karm AL-Sabbagh neighborhoud.
The UNHCR’s Representative in Syria, Sajjad Malik appreciated these initiatives and called for more such initiative to ease the life for both returnees and displaced communities in east Aleppo, “Street lights can make a huge difference, enhance the quality of life and provide protection.”
“Street lights can make a huge difference, enhance the quality of life and provide protection.”
Lighting the streets initiatives enriched the social life for the residents, and made them feel safe again when walking at night. Now, they can pay visits to each other and receive guests after the sunset. Children are so happy to gather and play safely in the evening. “Incomparable!” most people said, when asked about the difference before and after the streets were lit.
“We hope that all the neighborhood have street lights because this will encourage a lot of people to go back to their houses.” said Muhammad, a displaced man who returned to his house in Masaken Al Baladia, “My children and wife feel safe now.” Muhammad added.
Another initiative named “Hand in hand Let’s turn on the light”, was implemented at Jibreen collective shelter by UNHCR’s partner Syrian Society for Social Development (SSSD) to light a street of 50 meters at the shelter.
UNHCR together with its partners will continue such initiatives to bring light to most neighborhouds of eastern Aleppo. UNHCR also is preparing a similar initiative depending on solar energy in order to cover all areas apart from the availability of electricity generators. Solar power seems the right way to go, as electricity is still an issue in most parts of Aleppo.
Further efforts are needed to improve the impact of humanitarian and early recovery action in east Aleppo. In the meantime, UNHCR and partners are working closely with the local authorities.
Manaf Hamam contributed to reporting from Aleppo.