Support to local governance in Türkiye and Lebanon hosting Syrian refugees
Around 6.6 million Syrians have sought refuge abroad. The global pandemic and financial crisis have created enhanced competition for jobs between host and refugee communities and increased anti-refugee sentiments. SALAR International supports local governments in Türkiye and Lebanon to become resilient in the reception of refugees from Syria.
The Resilience in Local Governance Project (RESLOG) is part of the Swedish Government’s regional strategy for the Syria crisis. The project builds on the Swedish municipal experiences of receiving large numbers of refugees leading to considerable demographic changes in their communities. This entails supporting local authorities’ capacity to deliver municipal services to its original and new populations while developing new services and also to build peaceful co-habitation. This work involves different levels within the governance system; from policy advocacy at national level, regional support to capacity building through Unions of Municipalities and participatory and inclusive planning and service delivery at local level.
Improved migration management and peaceful co-habitation
In Türkiye, Reslog developed the Migration Masterplans (MMPs) for pilot municipalities, which were successfully integrated into the 5-year strategic plans of the municipalities. The MMPs were supported with investment funding as well as trainings, coaching and peer support. This systematic approach has helped municipalities attract larger funding for the operationalization of the MMPs through international donors such as EU and Germany (Qudra) and Taiwan.
Peaceful cohabitation is at the center of Reslog Türkiye programme for the 2022-2024 period. To develop capacities to respond to migration-related issues, Reslog supports municipalities to make services more responsive to actual local situations. Enabling environments for peaceful co/habitation is fostered through active citizenship and structured interactions such as networking, joint actions with civil society and community members and awareness raising activities.
In Lebanon, the local authorities are supported in building capacity to provide services to both Lebanese and Syrian communities and become more resilient to crisis. Peaceful cohabitation is supported through joint work where both groups are actively involved. When refugees take part in integrated municipal planning and service delivery, they become more active citizens in their communities and build closer relations to the local authorities:
- Digitalisation of Union of Municipalities and Member Municipalities - Institutional capacity building and establishment of Internal Management Systems making local authorities more efficient.
- Salamati app – an innovative health-monitoring system in response to Covid 19 and the cholera outbreak. Through tracing and tracking of potential cases, the application helps local authorities better manage the spread of disease in their areas. GIS system for Union of Municipalities and Member Municipalities, including street mapping and addressing, touristic information, social statistics, water and sewage network as well as establishment and training of a technical unit at union level and volunteer-based data collection.
- First Responder Team and Crisis Management Unit – This task force was e formalised under Jurd al Qayteh Union of Municipalities composed of Syrian and Lebanese trained volunteers willing to support the union and member municipalities in responding to emergencies, mainly forest fires and domestic fires in narrow villages or estates with difficult accessibility.
- Active citizenship ambassadors - Providing active citizens with technical expertise and training as support to their community project initiatives. Municipal Training Programme - a 6-month capacity building programme empowering youth leaders and as transformative actors in their communities and the municipal sphere.
Increased livelihood opportunities and Local Government actors as catalysts for Local Economic Development
In Türkiye Reslog works with local governments to provide decent and greener livelihood opportunities for local communities and refugees. ln collaboration with civil society organisations and with a special focus on women, Reslog encourages local governments to take on the role as catalyst for greener and more inclusive local economic development. This is achieved through a variety of capacity development approaches, testing of local innovative models and definition of programmes and guidebooks for municipalities.
In Lebanon, the project supports the local economic development in Akkar through activities related to Upcycling, a community-driven project to mobilize different community groups to develop upcycling and recycling solutions to reduce the waste in their unions innovatively, and at the same time generating income. The project is also supporting the eco-tourism and hospitality sector in Akkar, a relatively unexplored region with a lot of potential.
Improved coordination for migration policy
In Türkiye Reslog helps to bring local government perspectives on migration matters into national migration policy processes. Reslog's position as an independent, impartial and fact-based arena for policy dialogue is a strong asset.
Migration Policy Paper – Municipalities migration challenges specifically in terms of Finance, cohabitation, division of mandates and coordination were brought forward in a Migration Policy Paper which was drafted by 13 mayors and the UMT, MMU and CMU. The policy paper is currently being used as an advocacy tool through engagement with PMM and other national authorities. (Vertical coordination).
Reslog support the Union of Municipalities of Türkiye (UMT) and Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) to develop Municipality to Municipality peer learning programs for their members (horizontal coordination).
By supporting local to local (horizontal) and local to central (vertical) government dialogue and knowledge sharing in parallel, migration related governance capacities are strengthened at a systems level.