5 Kinder im Grundschulalter vor Whiteboard
arche noVa

Syria: Giving children a perspective

After eleven years of war, peace is not in sight in Syria - even if fighting is rare. Millions of people live with constant fear for their safety, with traumatic experiences and in a country that is largely destroyed. Water, food, electricity and medicine are scarce and expensive. There are nearly no building that do not show war damage. Half of all schools are so badly damaged that they cannot be used. Almost everywhere there is a lack of housing. Around half of the population has been displaced or resettled, and many of those affected have had to flee several times. For the people, everyday life is more difficult than ever before and the threat of Corona adds to this. For arche noVa, this means: Stay on site and help.
Simple World Map - Author: Al MacDonald Editor: Fritz Lekschas License: CC BY-SA 3.0 ID: ISO 3166-1 or "_[a-zA-Z]" if an ISO code is not available

Urgent need for reconstruction

After eleven years of insecurity, fear and dependence on aid supplies, the people in Syria wish for one thing above all: to be able to take their future into their own hands again. But in view of the destroyed infrastructure and the economic crisis, the preconditions for this are missing. In coordination with other aid organizations at the project locations, arche noVa contributes to the fact that the people take an important step forward on their way to more stable conditions. In concrete terms, we help to restore the basic functions of the largely destroyed water and sewage infrastructure and provide the people with a sustainable perspective of living in the region by supporting food security. Furthermore, we dedicate ourselves to the topic of education, because it is so important for the future of the next generation. arche noVa helps 5,000 children and young people per year, who have not been able to attend school for a long time, on their way back into the public school system. In addition, a training and consulting offer for young adults creates the opportunity to build up a professional existence by starting their own small business. All in all, our help is directed to internally displaced persons, returnee families, but also to the population in villages who are willing to take in refugees. 

A child's lifespan without school

Most children in Syria cannot remember a life without war. Falling bombs, fighting in their own neighbourhoods, the loss of their homes, the sight of dead and injured - these experiences have burned themselves into an entire generation. At the same time, what a child's life should have is missing: security, reliability, perspectives and a regular daily routine. The children and young people who cannot go to school are particularly affected.
About half of the schools have been destroyed, and there is a lack of staff and financial resources. OCHA, the UN emergency relief office, estimates that 41 percent of school-age children in our project area are not receiving any schooling. Among the younger children, there are many who have never seen the inside of a classroom. In many of the small and larger villages in the project area, there has been no school for years. Therefore, the joy was enormous when our first learning centre opened at the end of February 2021.

Learning reading, writing and math 

Reading, writing and arithmetic are at the top of school timetables worldwide. These are the basic skills that enable children to develop their potential in the first place. They are important for further learning and the prospect of earning a decent income. In our preparatory classes, the basics of the Arabic language are taught, which is the mother tongue for most of the participating children and young people. Mathematics and English are also on the timetable. At the same time, the children and young people we support must be specifically introduced to learning so that they can find their way back into the school system.

„Many children lack the self-confidence and skills to follow lessons at all. We want to strengthen the children, promote their independence, structure their everyday life, offer protected spaces to play and, last but not least, also impart knowledge.“

Many children lack the self-confidence and skills to follow lessons at all. We want to strengthen the children, promote their independence, structure their daily lives, offer protected spaces to play and, of course, impart knowledge.

Wolfram Lorenz, Project Officer Syria

Sheltered spaces for teaching

Our project is aimed at children and teenagers between the ages of 8 and 14 who have attended school for a long time or have never attended school because there is no longer a school in their place of residence, or because they have been unable to attend one for other reasons. Sheltered spaces are created for the education courses. Where possible, the local arche noVa team rents suitable classrooms, equips them accordingly and provides school material for the children. Where no suitable rooms can be found, the arche noVa team comes to the children with mobile classrooms. It is very important to provide a suitable environment for social interaction. Therefore, outdoor play areas and playgrounds are created. Once a week, a common school meal is also provided. 

In addition, a lot of emphasis is placed on psychosocial support, which is aimed directly at the students on the one hand, but above all also at the parents and teachers. Through this service, the adults learn how to respond better to the children's problems. After all, in many families, trauma makes life and learning difficult. The devastating experiences of war can be addressed and processed in a way that is appropriate for children by offering a program that appeals to everyone involved. This approach is already showing initial successes: the third batch of students has already successfully passed their exams, and a higher-than-expected percentage has managed to enter regular schooling.

Donate for this project

School bag, pens and notebooks for a Syrian school child
Complete preparation course for three months for one child

Lack of basic supplies throughout the project area

Our project area in northern Syria has been severely destroyed by fighting in the past. The region resembles a rubble landscape in large parts. For about five years, however, the situation has calmed down and the region is now only occasionally the target of attacks. In the meantime, the small and larger villages are home to a growing number of people who have found refuge here since the fighting subsided. There is hardly any electricity and not enough water for the rapidly growing population. The droughts of the last few years, rising water prices and high unemployment have worsened the situation. Above all, the lack of safe and affordable drinking water is a major health risk for the people. Time and again, there are outbreaks of highly contagious diseases because people have no other recourse than to use contaminated water from rivers or unsafe wells. 

arche noVa-Einsatz in Nordsyrien

Getting the water supply back on track

In 2020, our local team began restoring the functions of the water supply systems. Pumps, shut-off valves, power connections and generators were repaired or replaced at pumping stations. Where necessary, pipelines to drinking water treatment plants were also repaired or replaced, and connections to water networks in settlements were restored. By increasing the availability of water and improving water quality, we promote the health of those affected and ensure better food security, as families no longer have to spend a large part of their already scarce income on water, as was the case in the past. Furthermore, technical staff from the local water supply services in the communities are involved in all measures so that they can continue operating and maintaining the facilities in the spirit of helping people to help themselves. As a further component, we also provide health and hygiene education in the places where the water infrastructure is being improved. In this way, we can effectively combat the spread of infectious diseases that are transmitted through water.

Creating long-term prospects

The people in our project area face many other problems that urgently need to be addressed. As a result of the war and increasing droughts, agriculture has also been severely impacted, threatening people's food security. The majority of families in our project area rely on humanitarian aid. To reduce people's unemployment and provide them with sustainable prospects of staying in the country, we are therefore also promoting training and advising young people on how to build up their own professional livelihoods. The focus here is on vocational training courses that are directly linked to agriculture, water supply and food security. In an effort to create a livelihood, we also support people in gaining access to agricultural land. The focus is on leasing land that farmers can use, restoring irrigation canals, and providing support in equipping them with the relevant tools as well as training and mentoring. The aim is to enable the families involved to harvest crops sustainably and thus earn their own income, and to withstand future droughts.

Project Overview


Access to schooling for children and young people in northern Syria and restoration of water supply systems, strengthen resilience of vulnerable returnees, Internally Displaced Persons and host communities through increased food security, income generation activities in sectors relevant to agriculture, and improved and safe access to safe drinking water.

Target Group

Internally displaced persons, returnees, host communities

  • School-preparation courses for 8- to 14-year-olds over three months each 
  • Back to School" education campaign for parents
  • Distribution of school materials 
  • Rental and equipping of classrooms 
  • Psychosocial support 
  • Restoration of water systems (repair/replacement of pumps, generators, pipes, valves, tanks)
  • Improving quality of water
  • Access to land (land lease) and irrigation
  • Equipment with seeds, fertilizer, tools, livestock and stables
  • Training and mentoring of smallholder farmers
  • Vocational training courses for youth (with relevance to food security and WASH)
  • Business plan development support
  • Start-up support
Since December 2019

Private donors

Meike John
Editor Public Relations
+49 351 481984-12
meike.john [at] arche-nova.org