OUTCOME 2 Evaluation (Basic and Social Services and Infrastructure Restoration)

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2016-2022, Syria
Evaluation Type:
Planned End Date:
Completion Date:
Management Response:
Evaluation Budget(US $):


Document Type Language Size Status Downloads
Download document Outcome Evaluation-TOR.pdf tor English 854.54 KB Posted 1177
Download document UNDP SyriaCO_Country Programme Evaluation _Infrastructure_March2019_compressed.pdf report English 2471.54 KB Posted 1361
Title OUTCOME 2 Evaluation (Basic and Social Services and Infrastructure Restoration)
Atlas Project Number: 00104239
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2022, Syria
Evaluation Type: Outcome
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 03/2019
Planned End Date: 03/2019
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 6.1. From the humanitarian phase after crisis, early economic revitalization generates jobs and other environmentally sustainable livelihoods opportunities for crisis affected men and women
  • 2. Output 6.4. Recovery processes reinforce social cohesion and trust and enable rapid return to sustainable development
Evaluation Budget(US $): 50,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 52,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
Sami Halabi Director of Knowledge & Co-Founder
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: National partners, UN agencies Local NGOs


The range of infrastructure interventions was relevant to early recovery, and even more relevant when interventions were combined. Sanitation, waste management and debris removal facilitated physical access to areas, reduced the proliferation of disease and generated emergency employment for local inhabitants. Solar lighting increased social and business interaction, while social infrastructure rehabilitation improved access to, and capacity of schools, health centres and local markets. When combined, programming components were relevant in ways which produced outcomes that had multiplier effects. For example, the combination of debris removal and solid waste management encouraged IDPs to return to their hometowns, while the combination of solar lighting and social infrastructure rehabilitation allowed businesses to reopen and for longer hours.

Donor requirements played a significant role in areas and modality selection. Donor priorities were nearly always the first issue that UNDP field staff took into consideration when selecting areas and programme components. UNDP proposals from the field level did not always align with donor priorities, leading to a mismatch between needs on the ground and donor directives. In Aleppo, for example, UNDP field staff who identified needs on the western side of the city found themselves at odds with donors. In Al;Hasakeh, UNDP wished to install solar lighting, but found themselves unable to do so.

“We sometimes struggle to persuade donors when it comes to [intervening in] Aleppo” (UNDP Field Staff, Aleppo)


“Donor directives usually define priorities, in addition to the vision of the programme.” (UNDP Field Staff, AlGHasakeh)

UNDP made context-relevant interventions. During the planning stage, local authorities typically recommended intervention areas to UNDP field offices. UNDP then used these recommendations together with field visits to determine the scale of local needs before providing UNDP Damascus with proposed intervention areas. Local authority recommendations were guided by various criteria, including whether areas had become secure and accessible, while also factoring in population composition (IDP/Returnee/Resident) and density. Local authorities also based their recommendations on specific intervention requests by the local population.

“When we intervene in areas like [redacted] that aren’t a governorate priority, this causes serious dissatisfaction among the local authorities.” (UNDP Field Staff, Rural Damascus)

Local communities were often consulted on programming and component design, but there was no consistent mechanism for doing so. In Rural Damascus, Hama, and Homs, supervisory committees were established at the beginning of projects to monitor interventions. These committees usually included a local municipal officer (mukhtar) and representatives from relevant government agencies. In areas such as Aleppo, UNDP consulted local communities during field visits. The functions of local committees, however, were not always standardised and replicated across intervention geographies.

Tag: Disaster Recovery Energy Waste management Relevance Civic Engagement Local Governance Sanitation Donor relations Programme/Project Design Infrastructure


Inhabitants generally agreed that infrastructure interventions responded to their needs, but some interventions were more relevant than others. Interventions which addressed infrastructure issues for which inhabitants had no coping mechanisms—such as debris removal and solid waste management—were most relevant to populations. While electricity was persistently listed as a priority, inhabitants were virtually unaware of UNDP electricity rehabilitation interventions. Social infrastructure interventions were felt to be relevant to local needs, yet to a lesser extent than basic infrastructure. And while NGO capacity building successfully increased NGO workers’ capacity, there was no evidence of an organisation;wide effect.

Specific programming components were directly relevant to most inhabitants’ needs, although coverage remained an issue. In Hama City, residents were satisfied with solid waste management interventions. But in Rural Hama, for example, UNDP staff conceded that solid waste management interventions had only covered a fraction of the area in need. Social infrastructure increased the capacity of partially damaged local schools, clinics, and local markets such as the Old Market in Homs, although it did not typically address facilities needs holistically (e.g. in terms of sanitation repairs).

Inhabitants perceived programming to be focused on major streets and areas, but not side streets and peripheral areas. In Hama, for example, inhabitants perceived that solar lighting targeted main streets and largely neglected side streets. The same was true in solid waste management, which resulted in side streets being less hygienic and littered relative to other areas, particularly in Aleppo. That said, technical specifications related to how solar lighting projects can be installed may preclude future relevance to side streets and peripheral urban areas.

“As a result of this project, we can walk in the streets where we couldn’t walk before, and the cars can enter even if it’s still tricky.” (Female returnee, Homs)

Infrastructure employment was less equitable to some social groups and less relevant to others. During project implementation, the composition of workers was equally divided between IDPs and local residents. However, IDPs were overrepresented in work which was perceived to be of low social status, such as solid waste management and debris removal. UNDP was found to be unable enforce female representation in projects which employed local inhabitants, specifically because females did not apply to programmes which are labour; intensive traditionally seen as ‘male;appropriate’ such as debris removal, solid waste management or solar lighting installation.

Inconsistent  selection  criteria  and  national  duties  sidePlined  youth  in  employment projects. Indeed, infrastructure employment programming rarely targeted specific age categories. When age selection criteria did apply, UNDP only applied a minimum and maximum age restriction (18 and 65 respectively) in areas such as Rural Damascus and Homs. In other areas, selection criteria included quotas for youth, but military conscription limited effective representation.

Tag: Energy Waste management Relevance Gender Parity Sanitation Infrastructure Jobs and Livelihoods Capacity Building Civil Societies and NGOs Youth



Individual infrastructure interventions enhanced living conditions and laid the foundations for early recovery. The range of interventions restored urban areas and encouraged people to return to their towns and villages. Debris removal opened up previously inaccessible streets and acted as a force multiplier for other interventions, while infrastructure rehabilitation restored access to potable water, public water networks and sewage systems. Renewable energy projects saw the installation of solar lighting which illuminated streets at night, allowed businesses and schools to stay open longer and inhabitants to walk outside at night, and provided electricity to critical equipment in health centres. For their part, social infrastructure rehabilitation projects had palpable effects: more children enrolled in school and retention rates rose while, in health clinics, patient absorption capacity grew. Lastly, solid waste management meant rubbish was collected in places where it had not been for years, which contributed to a renewed sense of pride among the local population.

Yet when asked about the effects of all infrastructure interventions in general, inhabitants felt limited effects on market activity, job creation, and availability of goods and services. More than half of inhabitants (54%) perceived the infrastructure rehabilitation to have had no effect on market activity. Residents felt the least effect, with 64% stating the projects had no effect on market activity, followed by IDPs (46%) and returnees (39%). In fact, only 15% of the inhabitants perceived infrastructure rehabilitation to have had a large effect on increasing market activity (see Figure 5). When interviewed, though, inhabitants in Homs felt that social infrastructure rehabilitation had had a clear effect on generating market activity. And when it came to basic infrastructure, inhabitants in all intervention areas felt that UNDP interventions had paved the way for market recovery, but that substantive economic revival would take time.

"The market was destroyed, there were no shops. You couldn't walk through it. People have re=opened shops and started to shop again." (Female IDP, Homs)


Accordingly, three in four inhabitants (75%) stated that infrastructure rehabilitation had no effect on job creation. Residents were most likely to perceive no effect on job creation (79%), compared to returnees (76%), and IDPs (61%) (see Figure 6). Similarly, two thirds of inhabitants (67%) mentioned that infrastructure rehabilitation had no effect on the availability of goods and services. Residents in particular felt that UNDP’s intervention had no effect on the availability of goods and services (74%), compared to 61% among returnees, and 54% among IDPs. Inhabitants in Hama and Aleppo were cautious about the effects of rehabilitation on jobs: inhabitants felt that while basic infrastructure projects had temporarily created jobs and improved local living conditions, it had not translated into broader effects on the local market. Those in Homs agreed: while the rehabilitation of business units such as the Old Souq meant more job opportunities, the employment generated by the infrastructure projects was necessarily  shortWterm.  This  finding,  however,  should  be  understood  when  taking  into consideration the fact that emergency employment was, by definition, provided on a shortW term basis and as part of a broader emergency response.

“[Infrastructure rehabilitation projects] only created jobs for the people who worked with UNDP. They didn’t increase jobs on the ground.” (Female resident, Hama)

Even though widespread effects on the market have yet to materialise, the overwhelming majority of inhabitants felt that the quality of infrastructure has improved significantly. Almost all inhabitants (96%) perceived the quality of basic infrastructure to have improved since 2016. Residents were the most positive about quality improvements with 63% saying quality had risen to a large extent, followed by IDPs (56%) (see Figure 7). What’s more, the majority of returnees (64%) stated that infrastructure rehabilitation had positively contributed to their decision to return, albeit to varying extents (see Figure 8).

Tag: Disaster Recovery Drinking water supply Energy Waste management Water resources Effectiveness Reconstruction Economic Recovery Infrastructure Jobs and Livelihoods


Debris removal had a positive effect on market activity, employment and business revival. Nearly all inhabitants (95%) perceived that debris removal to have had a positive effect on market activity. Residents were most optimistic about the degree to which market activity had increased, with 56% stating that the component had a large effect on market activity, compared to IDPs (40%) and returnees (25%) (see Figure 9). In Homs and Aleppo, inhabitants agreed that debris removal had facilitated the restoration of local businesses and created better conditions for local commerce, both in the Old Souq of Homs and local markets of Aleppo.

Inhabitants recognised the positive effects of debris removal on local market activity, but were less confident about the effect on the availability of goods and services. While 61% of the inhabitants stated that debris removal had some effect on the availability of goods and services, no survey participant stated the effect was large and 39% did not perceive any effect on the availability on goods and services at all. (see Figure 10).

The vast majority of inhabitants (93%) also recognised debris removal to have had a positive effect  on  the  reWopening  of  shops  and  businesses  in  their  communities  (see  Figure  11). Moreover, most inhabitants (91%) also perceived debris removal to have had a positive effect on job creation, with 40% stating that it had contributed to a large extent, 29% stating that it had somewhat contributed and 22% stating it had contributed only a little. When interviewed, inhabitants in Aleppo described how debris removal projects had employed a large workforce at the same time as opening up the streets and markets. In Homs, business owners could only reopen their shops after UNDP removed debris from the streets.

"I'm a driver. When there was debris [in the streets], I couldn't work, but when the debris was removed, I could start working again." (Male returnee, Aleppo)

Tag: Disaster Recovery Service delivery Reconstruction Economic Recovery Jobs and Livelihoods


Most people who worked on debris removal were IDPs. The majority of inhabitants (73%) employed in debris removal were IDPs, followed by returnees (23%) and residents (5%). A local authority IP in Rural Damascus observed that all the inhabitants who took part in solid waste employment projects were IDPs because local residents were too embarrassed to take part in the project. In this context, it is likely that local residents consider debris removal and solid waste management lowWstatus work and were therefore less willing to take part in these projects.

“Everyone working on solid waste management projects were IDPs because the local residents were embarrassed to do the work.” (IP, Rural Damascus)

Debris removal laid the foundation for other infrastructure projects, which in turn improved living conditions. The majority of inhabitants (61%) stated that debris removal led to other infrastructure projects in their communities, such as infrastructure rehabilitation, renewable energy projects, social infrastructure rehabilitation, and solid waste management. Nearly all of these inhabitants (94%) perceived their living conditions to have improved due to the subsequent infrastructure projects facilitated by debris removal. In Aleppo, for instance, inhabitants asserted that subsequent activities such as road asphalting and renewable lighting projects would not have happened without debris removal first taking place. Debris removal also allowed inhabitants to save money: When interviewed, inhabitants in Homs explained that by allowing them to return home, debris removal allowed them to save on rent and spend money on other essential costs.

"There has been a huge difference [relative to before 2016]. Homs was a city of ghosts.” (Male IDP, Homs)

‘When we were outside of town, we were renting. Even though we're sitting on the floor here, we're sitting in our homes and slowly repairing them using the rent money." (Female returnee, Homs)

Debris removal facilitated social cohesion and increased returnee rates, as well as encouraging both IDPs and residents to stay in their communities. When surveyed, most of those employed in debris removal (95%) felt that the projects had facilitated social cohesion between the IDP and host communities (see Figure 12). When interviewed, inhabitants in Aleppo inhabitants stated that debris removal had encouraged people to return to their neighbourhoods and reWopened roads, meaning that people could see and talk to each other more. That said, the 5% who did not feel that debris removal facilitated social cohesion were all IDPs. In addition, all female inhabitants engaged in debris removal stated that the project had very little effect on facilitating social cohesion. Female inhabitants in Homs also felt that the restoration of water and electricity would need to be addressed before genuine social cohesion could truly be restored.

The accumulative effect of debris removal encouraged people to return and stay in their communities. Most residents (85%) surveyed concurred that debris removal had encouraged them to remain in their communities (see Figure 13). As with residents, most returnees (86%) perceived debris removal to have had a positive effect on their decision to return home. (see Figure 14). Furthermore, the majority of IDPs (56%) stated that debris removal had a large effect on to their decision to return to their communities (see Figure 12). Debris  removal  had  other  positive  knock-on  effects:  inhabitants  of  Homs  and  Aleppo explained that debris removal opened up roads, improving access to their neighbourhoods and enabling people to return. As these people returned, inhabitants felt safer in their neighbourhoods, which were no longer empty, increasing people’s sense of security and encouraging them to stay.


Tag: Disaster Recovery Waste management Reconstruction Security Social cohesion Infrastructure Jobs and Livelihoods Displaced People


UNDP’s rehabilitation of potable and public water networks improved inhabitants’ access to water, although shortages persist. Most (85%) of the inhabitants stated that UNDP’s intervention helped them access reliable sources of potable water to a large extent. However, perceptions varied between inhabitants, with more residents (94%) than returnees (68%) and IDPs (75%) feeling that UNDP’s intervention helped them to access reliable sources of potable water (see Figure 15). Despite the positive effects of the potable water network rehabilitation, more than a third (34%) of survey participants still experienced shortages and cuts. Potable water shortages and cuts were mostly reported by returnees (59%) and IDPs (44%) and to a lesser extent by residents (19%) (see Figure 16). When interviewed, female returnees in Aleppo said that prior to UNDP interventions, they had been forced to draw unclean water from wells. After UNDP interventions, their access to safe drinking water significantly improved, but the scale of damage to returnees’ homes meant that significantly more work needed to be done to fully restore water.

“The best thing [UNDP] did was to restore our water. When it came back, so did our lives.” (Female returnee, Aleppo)

“Six months into the army’s arrival, we were still filling up our water elsewhere. Once [UNDP] intervened, the water started again.” (Female returnee, Aleppo)

Rehabilitation of potable and public water networks improved water quality and reduced  inhabitants’  exposure  to  waterborne  disease.  Nearly  twoWthirds  (63%)  of inhabitants stated that water network rehabilitation had a large effect on their access to an adequate amount of water. Besides improving quantity, UNDP’s intervention also improved the quality of available water. Following rehabilitation, almost two in three inhabitants (63%) rated the water quality to be very good and no beneficiary perceived the water quality to be poor (see Figure 17). Inhabitants in Aleppo reported that UNDP’s water network rehabilitation reduced people’s exposure to waterWborne diseases, reduced the level of disease carrying pests, and provided drinking water that no longer caused blindness.36 Inhabitants in Aleppo also reported that the improved sanitation network had increased water pressure and overall reliability.

“The water from the well used to cause us lots of blindness-related issues, particularly among children. This has stopped, thank God.” (Female returnee, Aleppo)

Sewage network rehabilitation had a positive effect on hygiene conditions, but inhabitants continued to rely on individual desludging. The majority of inhabitants (68%) rated their households’ hygiene condition as very good or good following sewage network rehabilitation] only 6% perceived conditions to be poor. Inhabitants in Aleppo reported that public water pipes stopped leaking after UNDP’s intervention, even if some houses still contained leaking pipes. Despite a generally positive perception of the sewage network intervention, the majority of inhabitants (61%) continued to see individual desludging as a more effective method than the use of public sewage networks. In Aleppo, inhabitants were pleased  with  how  the  UNDP  cleaned  manholes,  replaced  pipes  and  reopened  water networks. However, inhabitants also commented that there were still areas where leaking water caused damage to buildings. In Hama, inhabitants considered that the sewage network no longer flooded the streets, but felt that the sheer scale of detritus in the sewage network would require additional large-scale dredging.

“Sanitation has improved, it used to soak up [the ground] with water, mice and rats would come out. It’s better now.” (Female returnee, Aleppo)

“If we compare to how things were before 2016 [...] things have changed significantly for the better.” (Female resident, Hama)

Tag: Drinking water supply Water resources Sanitation Reconstruction


Renewable energy projects illuminated public spaces and increased perceptions of safety. All inhabitants perceived solar street lighting to have illuminated public spaces in their community, with nearly three in four inhabitants (72%) reporting that solar lighting had a large effect on the illumination of public spaces. Furthermore, every inhabitant surveyed felt safer as a result of solar street lighting, and nearly threeWquarters (71%) reported feeling safer to a large extent. Female inhabitants in Aleppo and male inhabitants in Homs agreed that the illumination of public spaces had reduced kidnapping rates and theft as well as reduced harassment.


"Now that the solar lighting is here, we can go out and stay out late, and send our children to the grocer's. They don't say 'Mum, I'm scared' anymore because the street is totally lit." (Female resident, Aleppo)

“Tradespeople were afraid to display their goods in the market because of robberies [...] lighting has played a big role in making things safe.” (Male IDP, Homs)

Renewable energy projects contributed to social cohesion by encouraging movement at night. Almost all inhabitants (98%) across all gender and residency statuses felt encouraged to move freely at night, with more than twoWthirds saying the lighting helped them do so to a large extent (see Figure 18). Inhabitants in Aleppo reported that children can now walk in the streets after sunset, and students no longer have to study by candlelight or moonlight. Inhabitants of Homs, Aleppo and Hama were all content with the ability to visit their friends and relatives at night. However, inhabitants’ knowledge of UNDP renewable energy projects was chiefly limited to solar lighting: when asked about other renewable energy projects  such  as  smallWscale  heating  or  water  pumping  facilities,  survey  and  interview participants were unaware of projects.

"The most important thing is that the schools which stay open in the afternoon and close late now have lighting, and I no longer have to bring a torch when I get my daughter from school." (Female resident, Aleppo)

Solar street lighting was perceived to have increased market activity, enhanced the business environment and increased employment. Almost all inhabitants (98%) reported that the illuminated streets resulted in a better business environment, more so among men (69%) than women (52%). Correspondingly, most inhabitants (89%) perceived the solar street lighting to have contributed to increased market activity, with more IDPs reporting it did so to a large extent (63%) than residents (40%) and returnees (47%) (see Figure 19). The majority of inhabitants (61%) perceived the illuminated streets to also have had a positive impact on employment, with a higher share among IDPs (62%) and returnees (66%) reporting so than residents (53%). However, differences were more significant between the different age groups, with 50% of the youth stating the project did not contribute to job creation at all, followed by senior citizens (46%), adults (41%), young adults (32%) and adolescents (20%) (see Figure 20). In interviews with inhabitants from Aleppo and Homs, it was clear that solar lighting had enabled businesses and schools to open later.

“I used to work six hours in my shop before going home [...] now I can keep it open for ten hours.” (Male IDP, Homs)

Solar power indirectly contributed to community safety by increasing the consistency of social services. A total of 57% of survey respondents perceived solar power to have resulted in more consistent social services. Furthermore, given that inhabitants consistently reported a lack of access to reliable electricity, most inhabitants (94%) perceived renewable energy to be more effective and reliable than conventional energy. Indeed, the perception was held to a large extent by 62% of inhabitants, indicating the extent to which conventional electricity was inadequate (see Figure 21).

“Of course solar energy is more preferable... it makes us feel like we’re becoming a developed country." (Male IDP, Homs)

Tag: Energy Security Social cohesion Economic Recovery Jobs and Livelihoods


Social infrastructure rehabilitation impacted the operational efficiency of schools, hospitals and social centres, yet effects were marginal. While 59% of the inhabitants felt that rehabilitating facilities had contributed to the operational efficiency of schools, hospitals, and social centres in some way, 25% felt that the effects of rehabilitating the facilities on their efficiency had been minor. An additional 41%, on the other hand, perceived no effect at all (see Figure 22).

UNDP’s social infrastructure interventions improved access to, and quality of health care services. Prior to the rehabilitation of health centres by UNDP, inhabitants rated the level of their health care services as either good (36%), acceptable (54%) or poor (8%). Following rehabilitation, perceptions of health care services improved significantly, with inhabitants rating the health care services to be either very good (46%), good (41%) or acceptable (13%) (see Figures 23 and 24). In Hama, for instance, a health centre had increased its capacity with the addition of a new floor, which facilitated the hiring of for more doctors and nurses. In Homs, inhabitants were pleased that the UNDP had removed debris from schools and health centres.

“[UNDP] did an excellent job of repairing all the schools and clinics with debris in them.” (Female IDP, Homs)

[UNDP] repaired the health centre in our neighbourhood. We were hoping that it would save us money [...] but it didn’t make a huge difference.” (Male resident, Hama)

Almost all inhabitants who benefited from health care services accessed primary health care (96%), followed by secondary health care (4%)] no survey participant accessed tertiary health care services. The majority of inhabitants (59%) found healthcare services easier to access health services subsequent to social infrastructure interventions. Ease of access, however, was gendered: only 44% of women felt access was facilitated relative to 86% of men. In addition, only one in four IDPs (27%) stated access to health care services improved as a result UNDP’s rehabilitation, while shares among residents (70%) and returnees (100%) were significantly higher (see Figure 25).

School rehabilitation improved access to education and increased retention rates, but additional repairs are required. Following rehabilitation, approximately half the inhabitants perceived the school's’ quality to be either very good or good, while the other half stated quality to be acceptable or poor. Again, there were differences according to gender: 71% of male respondents reported school quality to be very good to good subsequent to rehabilitation, compared to 41% of women (see Figure 26). Inhabitants in Homs were satisfied with the rehabilitation of local schools, but Hama inhabitants were more muted in their praise: while UNDP school rehabilitation had started well, inhabitants claimed that UNDP did not follow up on their requests for improved school sanitation and electricity repairs.

“The situation has definitely improved compared to 2016. There were 1100 students before, whereas now there are about 1500.” (Male IDP, Hama)

Most inhabitants (95%) perceived UNDP’s projects to have provided access to safe and wellW equipped schools. In fact, the vast majority of survey respondents (89%) reported the rehabilitation of schools to have resulted in higher enrolment rates since 2016. However, perceptions varied among inhabitants, with 60% of IDPs stating that UNDP’s intervention resulted in higher enrolment rates to a large extent, compared to only one in three (32%) residents and one in four returnees (see Figure 27). The fact that approximately double the number of IDPs felt enrolment had increased indicates that UNDP targeting of this social group was effective. In addition, more than two in three respondents (69%) also stated that school rehabilitation has resulted in higher retention rates.

Tag: Health Sector Service delivery Reconstruction Social cohesion Education Infrastructure Displaced People


Social infrastructure rehabilitation contributed to enhanced access to goods and services, and to a lesser extent increased market activity and employment. All inhabitants perceived the rehabilitation of business units and souqs to have resulted in enhanced access to goods and services. Female inhabitants in particular reported these interventions to have had a large effect on enhanced access to goods and services (72%), compared to male inhabitants (56%), likely due to traditional gender roles playing out in women going to market to buy household items (see Figure 28). Effects on market activity were less pronounced. Women in particular were pessimistic regarding the rehabilitation of business units and souqs, with 51% reporting the intervention had not contributed to increased market activity at all, compared to 38% among men. In addition, significantly more returnees’ felt that the rehabilitation had a positive effect on increased market activity, relative to IDPs (68%) and residents (45%) (See figure 29). In Homs, inhabitants were very pleased with the rehabilitation of the Old Souq, which had been in dire need of repair even prior to the crises. The rehabilitation of the Old Souq allowed tradespeople to return to their shops, which in turn positively impacted the local economy by increasing competition and reducing the price of consumer goods.

Similar to the perceived effects on increased market activity, a slight majority of inhabitants (56%) felt that social infrastructure rehabilitation had had a positive effect on job creation. However, perceptions again varied between gender and residency statuses. More men (72%) than women (46%) felt that the intervention had a positive effect on employment, and, additionally, significantly more returnees (96%) than IDPs (73%) and residents (46%) reported the intervention to had had a positive effect on job creation (see Figure 30).

Social infrastructure rehabilitation facilitated social cohesion but had inconclusive effects on living conditions. The majority of respondents (75%) perceived social infrastructure rehabilitation to have had a positive effect on social cohesion between IDPs and host communities. Perceived positive effects on social cohesion were significantly higher among returnees (98%) and IDPs (79%) than residents (71%) (see Figure 31). Correspondingly, nearly all returnees (96%) reported social infrastructure rehabilitation to have improved their living conditions, even if shares among IDPs (65%) and residents (45%) were significantly lower. That said, most returnees (89%) stated that social infrastructure rehabilitation had an effect on their decision to return.

"These initiatives have made everyone start work again and talk to each other again.

Everyone has started to see that the other side is suffering. The situation is very different now." (Male IDP, Homs)

“I wanted to leave but didn’t in the end, because I sensed there was work and reconstruction.” (Male, Homs)

Solid waste management interventions improved overall cleanliness and hygiene levels, but coverage remained an issue. Most respondents (87%) reported an improvement in the cleanliness of public spaces of their communities since 2016 (see Figure 33). Accordingly, nearly all inhabitants (97%) perceived that solid waste projects contributed to improved hygiene conditions in their communities. However, while half of the residents (47%) and IDPs (52%) stated that solid waste projects made large improvements to hygiene conditions, only 37% of returnees felt the same. Inhabitants interviewed in Hama reported that solid waste management interventions reduced the level of pests carrying diseases such as leishmaniasis, as well as packs of wild dogs. In Homs, inhabitants felt that public hygiene had significantly improved following solid waste interventions. Inhabitants in Aleppo, however, were less positive on the whole, commenting that UNDP did not cover all areas and that it did not employ enough workers.

“The [UNDP solid waste management] project was extremely positive. I really felt it in all the surrounding areas.” (Male resident, Homs)

"The street is clean now. We can now say that we live in this neighbourhood without being afraid that people think we come from a dirty area." (Male returnee, Aleppo)

Tag: Waste management Sanitation Service delivery Reconstruction Social cohesion Economic Recovery Infrastructure Jobs and Livelihoods Displaced People


Some infrastructure employment interventions generated sustainable livelihoods outcomes, although the focus on temporary employment meant these were short-lived. Although  intrinsically  short-term,  sanitation  employment  interventions  provided  market-relevant training for future employment opportunities. However, inhabitants felt that the skills they gained from employment with UNDP would be strictly limited to employment with local service providers, such as municipal waste collection or sanitation services. Other forms of employment generated by infrastructure interventions—such as employment in solid waste removal and solar energy—did not create long-term employment opportunities. Importantly, the limited capacity of local authorities to take on infrastructure projects and hire additional staff raises questions about the sustainability of these projects.

"The support has been both material and moral: material in the sense that people get a salary and can pay their rent, and moral in the sense that they are taking part in cleaning up their homes and their town.” (Male IDP, Homs)

The security situation, official permissions and labour shortages reduced effectives. Field staff and IPs largely felt that the security situation had improved across intervention areas, and that security concerns were mitigated by factoring them in at the programme design stage. In some areas, however, the security situation delayed or even prevented UNDP programming. In Homs, the security situation was a considerable challenge for IPs from install solar lighting, while in Hama the market continues to close at 5pm due to security concerns. Waiting for official permissions caused delays in all areas. In Aleppo, the requirement to obtain separate permissions for solid waste management, debris removal, as well as water and sanitation interventions all delayed implementation. In Rural Damascus and Aleppo, labour shortages created further problems, meaning that field offices failed to attract the requisite number of workers for projects.

“In Zabadani, we wanted 100 workers, but only 15 showed up.” (UNDP Field Staff, Rural Damascus)

Internal planning and a lack human resources at times reduced effectiveness. This lack of local due diligence meant that IPs sometimes lacked the necessary skills and technical capabilities to implement projects. In Aleppo, field staff also cited a lack of human resources and inWhouse expertise leading to poor planning practices and in turn, reduced effectiveness.

"There was a large number of women. It broke the barrier of women not working. When we see what happened to them during the work, it certainly changed their lives for the better: good salaries, and they are independent." (Male resident, Hama)

Tag: Energy Waste management Challenges Effectiveness Sustainability Human and Financial resources Sustainability Security Infrastructure Jobs and Livelihoods


Infrastructure interventions improved women’s resilience by addressing their particular needs. Women, and specifically FHHs found UNDP’s infrastructure interventions to reduce particular burdens on their families. For instance, female inhabitants in Aleppo no longer had to carry water over long distances when potable water networks were rehabilitated. In the conservative city of Hama, women initially hid their faces because of the societal stigma of working in solid waste management, but quickly built confidence and no longer felt stigmatised.

"To be honest, it’s hard to have women taking part in debris removal projects as non= supervisors due to the nature of the work." (UNDP staff, Rural Damascus)

NGO    training    programmes    provided    industry relevant    skills    and    enhanced beneficiaries’ professional outcomes. NGO training sessions were effective and targeted enough to increase capacity across the different functions of NGOs, including accountancy, communications and project management. Repeated training sessions produced more widespread comprehension of the aid sector and the project cycle. In some cases, the trainings were so effective that they resulted in staff seeking other professional opportunities. However, beneficiaries were not always able to attend multiple training sessions. In Hama, beneficiaries felt that the effectiveness of these sessions were limited because they were only able to attend one round of capacity building training sessions.

“We’re more organised now, and we can write reports more quickly.” (Male accountant, Hama)


Tag: Drinking water supply Waste management Water resources Effectiveness Women's Empowerment Resilience Infrastructure Capacity Building Civil Societies and NGOs



The short term nature of emergency interventions meant that projects were quickly completed, but delays occasionally occurred. Inhabitants and IPs commented positively on the speed of UNDP implementations. For instance, in Homs and Aleppo, UNDP took a month to complete debris removal. When interviewed, IPs typically reported that projects had been successfully completed on time. However, delays could occasionally occur post-project: In Homs, inhabitants noted that solar lighting was installed in two months, although there was a delay of a month before they were actually used. In Aleppo, UNDP anticipated intervening on more than one occasion when people returned and more debris appeared in the streets. In Rural Damascus, the local authorities commented that UNDP had yet to deliver street lighting that had been promised a year ago.

“"UNDP were quick and skilled.” (Male returnee, Homs)

Permission delays and lack of sufficient materials resulted in lower efficiency. While UNDP staff were always able to obtain permissions, waiting for them could cause delays. The lack of permissions reduced the overall agility of UNDP interventions: repeated interventions required multiple permissions from local authorities, and the different types of permissions could increase the administrative burden for field staff, was in the case in Aleppo. A lack of sufficient materials also caused delays to project implementation: in Aleppo, the local authorities highlighted that UNDP had not brought sufficient materials and equipment for the number of workers available.

Most areas were accessible, although the security situation presented some access issues. With the exception of Aleppo and Rural Damascus, intervention areas did not present physical access issues. In Aleppo, it remained difficult to intervene in the countryside, in areas near hot spots, and areas controlled by non-governmental forces in AlCHasakeh.  Intervening was not impossible, but entry and exit could prove challenging, as in AlCHasakeh and Aleppo’s AlCShaykh Maqsood district. In Rural Damascus, UNDP remained unable to obtain access to areas which, until recently, had not been under governmental control. In addition, the streets in Rural Damascus were extremely narrow, which proved challenging for implementation.

UNDP usually had strong infrastructure monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practices. All UNDP field offices had an M&E team present. These field teams evaluated all interventions, conducted regular field visits to meet inhabitants and provided weekly and/or monthly reports. M&E teams also coordinated with local authorities through fortnight and monthly meetings. However, it was evident that UNDP field office M&E processes prioritized output indicators over outcome measurement, focusing on indicators such as the numbers of indirect beneficiaries reached or temporary jobs created. While only Hama and Rural Damascus field offices   reported to   have   conducted post-implementation impact assessments for infrastructure interventions, the Aleppo field office was currently establishing a specific impact reporting team. In AlCHasakeh, M&E was conducted on the basis of observation only. On the other hand, local authority IPs reportedly conducted evaluations at the end of every project.

NGO capacity issues are widespread, but UNDP is in the process of addressing the issue. Several NGOs, FBOs and field office teams lack the capacity to implement complex programs and assess beneficiary level needs. However, FBOs showed relatively higher levels of organizational capacity than NGOs, including in the areas of project management and the ability to conduct assessment surveys. When there were capacity gaps, NGO capacity building programs proved effective, especially in project management and accounting. However, a focus on individuals rather than organizational capacity limited efficient capacity building.

Tag: Disaster Recovery Energy Challenges Efficiency Rural Local Governance Monitoring and Evaluation Policies & Procedures Reconstruction Infrastructure Capacity Building Operational Services Civil Societies and NGOs


Coherence & Connectedness

UNDP programmes were coherent with international and national frameworks, but it was unclear to what extent this was intentional. UNDP field staff consistently identified ways in which infrastructure programming addressed the SDGs. Programming addressed SDG3   (Good   Health and   Well@Being)   by   removing waste,   rehabilitating clinics   and improving/replacing sanitation networks SDG6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) through its focus on rehabilitating sanitation and providing clean water SDG9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) by explicitly targeting infrastructure rehabilitation.

UNDP programming was coherent with national frameworks. Programming contributed to  UNDP  Strategic  Plan  2018-2021,  Outcome  3  (Strengthening  Resilience  to  Shocks  and Crisis) by creating emergency employment opportunities that reduced the effect of further shocks from occurring. Programming also contributed to UNSF Pillar 2 (Essential Services and Infrastructure) through restored essential infrastructure and access to services.

Tag: Drinking water supply Water resources Relevance Health Sector Sanitation Programme Synergy Project and Programme management Reconstruction Infrastructure Agenda 2030



Debris removal, sanitation, solar lighting, and social infrastructure programming showed evidence of sustainability. Debris removal provided the foundation for all infrastructure interventions and the return of displaced populations. Thanks to sanitation rehabilitation, more people have sustainable access to potable water. Solar lighting has also boosted freedom of movement at night, market activity, and business revival. Provided they are maintained and not stolen, the solar panels are expected to last for 25 years. In Homs’ Old Souq business rehabilitation has allowed many traders to return to their shops and generated ongoing market activity. In Hama, inhabitants felt that the rehabilitation of schools and clinics had increased their ability to take in more students and patients.

The absence of sustainability assessments during programme design risks limiting effects  to  the  short-term.  Field  staff  and  IPs  rarely  if  at  all  conducted  sustainability assessments during the programming cycle. Without taking into consideration the implications of withdrawal post-implementation, there is a possibility that the effects of programming will be short-lived. There is also a danger that UNDP emergency interventions if extended, could create dependencies. In Aleppo, UNDP field staff reported that inhabitants had begun to assume that UNDP would remain in the city for the long term.

Tag: Disaster Recovery Energy Waste management Sustainability Government Cost-sharing Sanitation Ownership Sustainability Reconstruction Infrastructure Displaced People



Local authorities and UNDP occasionally lacked technical capacity during project implementation. UNDP field staff reported that local authorities’ technical capacity sometimes presented challenges to implementation. On occasion, UNDP itself did not have the requisite materials during project implementation, and commented that local authorities could have benefitted from greater expertise in order to provide material recommendations. UNDP field staff also suggested that local authority project reports could have been written in greater detail, noting that there were no other potential IPs that UNDP could work with. On the other hand, IPs also felt that UNDP field offices could have employed a larger number of technical staff to advise on project implementation.

UNDP undertook efforts to increase IPs capacity in some areas, but these could have been more systematic. Individual field offices used various approaches to build IP capacity. In some areas, UNDP ran end of project maintenance workshops for local authorities and IPs, but this was not consistently the case across intervention areas. Several UNDP field staff suggested that  IPs  had  gained  hands-on  experience  during  the  implementation  phase. However, UNDP staff also commented that IP capacity gaps remain significant and that IPs would benefit from trainings ranging from HR management to good accounting practices.


Tag: Challenges Local Governance Human and Financial resources Partnership UNDP Management UNDP management Capacity Building Institutional Strengthening Technical Support


Adopt more comprehensive damage needs assessment methods to bolster the existing Long-term area-based approach to infrastructure interventions.


Facilitate the sustainability of interventions through joint-planning, assessment and Capacity building with implementing partners.


Engage donors with evidence of basic infrastructure needs and wider outcomes

1. Recommendation:

Adopt more comprehensive damage needs assessment methods to bolster the existing Long-term area-based approach to infrastructure interventions.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/05/28] [Last Updated: 2021/02/01]

UNDP Syria has adopted a bottom-up approach to  identify the needs and priorities, as the following:

  • Socio Economic Governorate: work is guided by conflict analysis developed though the regularly updated governorate profiles which includes a situation analysis of different socio-economic and vital sectors in the target governorate to update needs,
  • Area-based approach: an area-based response plan is then developed and updated in close consultation with local stakeholders under the framework of UNDP’s mandate in livelihoods, early recovery and resilience.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
In order to implement the bottom-up approach within the context of Syria, UNDP has applied the rapid damage assessment by observation, especially in the newly accessible areas, image satellite technique might be also adapted for some areas .
[Added: 2019/05/30] [Last Updated: 2021/05/17]
UNDP Syria 2020/12 Completed As a response to the evolving situation on the ground and emerging needs, UNDP Syria CO has worked on developing an Integrated Area-Based Approach which would enable conducing comprehensive assessments and designing comprehensive projects , this has been started by initiated 8 pilot IABA projects in 8 governorates and will be implemented during 2021 History
2. Recommendation:

Facilitate the sustainability of interventions through joint-planning, assessment and Capacity building with implementing partners.

Management Response: [Added: 2019/05/30] [Last Updated: 2021/02/01]

UNDP Syria has adopted a Comprehensive Livelihood Approach for Damage Assessment based on five main categories: physical, financial, natural, human, and social, in order to help the affected communities have a better access to food,  health care, education, safe water and sanitation, security, and protection and maximize the desired impact

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UNDP Syria will work on Comprehensive-Livelihood- Damage Assessments in some the targeted areas.
[Added: 2019/05/30] [Last Updated: 2021/05/17]
UNDP Syria 2020/12 Completed Starting mid-2020 on wards, UNDP Syria has adopted a Comprehensive Livelihoods Support Approach which is based on five main categories: physical, financial, natural, human, and social, this approach has helped to better responding the local affected communities with a better access to food, health care, education, safe water and sanitation and protection and maximize the desired impact History
3. Recommendation:

Engage donors with evidence of basic infrastructure needs and wider outcomes

Management Response: [Added: 2019/05/30] [Last Updated: 2021/02/01]

In general, UNDP Syria prepares its Early Recovery plan for the targeted areas in each governorate separatly,  when each plan includes a detailed context assessment of the needs, priorities and opportunities in relation to the basic and social infrastructure rehabilitation in detail including types of intervention, targeted beneficiaries and impacts . These assessments are usually  shared with each donor especially when preparing for new projects agreements; however, a sepcial focus on the wider outomes and impact will be made and further shared with the donors community .



Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UNDP Syria is planning to prepare a comprehensive sectoral assessment on needs, and priority intervention based.
[Added: 2019/05/30] [Last Updated: 2021/05/17]
UNDP Syria 2020/12 Completed More progress and final reports as well as communications materials, such as: videos, success stories, articles and posts on the implemented projects and targeted communities have been produced and widely-shared on the website and official social media and also with key partners and donors . History

Latest Evaluations

Contact us

1 UN Plaza
DC1-20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. +1 646 781 4200
Fax. +1 646 781 4213