Economy of solidarity
The massive refugee influx from Syria brought together issues such as access to health and education services and the inability to meet the fundamental needs such as accommodation and meals at an adequate level.
The temporary protective status granted to Syrian refugees does not enable local governments to supervise and monitor their nutrition tools.
For instance, the number of Syrian asylum seekers registered in İzmir under the status of temporary protection is 84,864 and half of them are children. The most vulnerable to malnutrition and the most disadvantaged group are those between the ages of 7 and 12, and Syrian refugee children in İzmir are trying to complete their development during their elementary school years with restricted or inadequate proteins and vitamins.
Their lack of proper nutrition leaves them defenseless against diseases. This situation interrupts their attendance in school. In other words, while they are defenseless against diseases, they also cannot integrate into education and social environment.
These children live in İzmir’s neighborhoods that are fragile due to their sociological structures and the disadvantaged groups that reside there. The uncontrolled humanitarian aid delivered recently has polarized the different social groups living together in those disadvantaged neighborhoods. This polarization is an obstacle blocking the socialization of Syrian and Turkish children.
Development Workshop and Youth Deal Cooperative, if they are able to raise the funds needed, will launch a project that will set an example for everybody.
In this project, they aim to regularly provide yogurt produced by agricultural cooperatives or local private sector firms for Syrian children and the disadvantaged children attending the same schools as them. They also want to broaden the project.
In the pilot 100-day project, the target is to have the 150-gram yogurts sent directly to children every day. If the project is carried out, the development of disadvantaged children attending school will be supported with yogurt, protecting them from diseases. The dropout rate of other disadvantaged children attending the same schools with Syrian refugee children will decrease and their integration to school will also be supported.
By preventing polarization concerning humanitarian aid, these children will feel equal and the socialization of different ethnic groups will be enabled. By empowering producer cooperatives to take an effective role in the field of humanitarian aid, regional development will be reinforced. Cooperatives, local private sector firms and local NGOs will be included in the humanitarian aid process.
Similar yogurt projects were carried out in the U.S. with the cooperation of Chobani and in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, with local yogurt producers. Positive social effects were observed in addition to the positive biological effects of this project. In other words, the deal is the health of children as well as supporting the livelihood of local small farms, thus supporting regional development and creating some kind of economy of solidarity.
Let us hope this nice project raises the needed funds and will be carried out.