New Policy Brief demands action on food security, capacity and peace-building in Syria
Posted on behalf of: Sussex Sustainability Research Programme
Last updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2023
Today (15 March 2023) marks twelve years since the start of the Syrian conflict. The series of recent devastating earthquakes in Southeast Turkey and Northwest Syria in February 2023 exposed once again the enormous difficulties a region already weakened by a protracted crisis and long-term conflict is faced with, when hit by natural distasters.
Researchers Dr Mirela Barbu (Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, University of Sussex Business School), Prof Martin Spinelli (Professor in Podcasting and Creative Media, School of Media, Arts and Humanities) have worked closely with the Syrian Academic Expertise (SAE) and Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara) Syria Programme through their ‘Agricultural Voices Syria’ (AVS) project over the past few years, which seeks to address the lack of agricultural extension services in Northwest Syria, a zone where achieving food security is the main sought after solution to a severe humanitarian crisis.
Mirela Barbu describes their project as ‘a unique experiment in a conflict zone designed to positively impact food security and livelihoods by facilitating knowledge transfer of agricultural innovation, practices and technologies from Syrian agricultural experts in Syria and in exile to farmers in Northwest Syria.’
Launched with funding from the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), AVS supports Northwest Syrian farmers through innovative media which has led to a popular podcast and video series, available in both Arabic and English.
Drawing on findings and information collected in focus groups and workshops with local authorities, donors and agricultural experts, the AVS research team has now published a new policy brief underpinned by their previous work with SSRP, SAE and Cara on promoting sustainable agri-food value chains in Syria and using digital infrastructure to improve food security and environmental conservation in Northwest Syria.
The authors of the briefing claim that
- AVS is not just a tool, but a model to support knowledge exchange, connect agricultural experts with farmers and local institutions, create local networks in conflict zones, and strengthen farmers’ voices.
- Nevertheless, social media tools cannot substitute infrastructure, training and agricultural assets.
- In the difficult aftermath of the earthquakes, it has become critical to maintain food production and support all actors who can address dire food shortages. AVS and its future iterations can become a communication platform of integrated social media to promote best practices, link humanitarian organisations, NGOs and institutional actors working towards achieving common goals in Northwest Syria.
The full policy brief with its ten key recommendations and actions can be accessed and downloaded here.
To find out more about the ‘Agricultural Voices Syria’ project or to check out the AVS podcast and video series available in Arabic and English, explore the SSRP project page and AVS website.
Further information: https://agricultural-voices.sussex.ac.uk/