An NGO is employing a self-help “cottage industry model” to introduce water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in refugee camps. Instead of relying on handouts, refugees are offered a steady wage to participate in the improvement of their own living conditions.
The NGO promoting this approach, is the Al Madad Foundation, a UK registered charity since 2001, based in London. The Foundation is active in two main areas:
- education and literacy programmes for refugee and disadvantaged children
- sustainable relief in emergencies
The Foundation’s Director is Aya Haidar, a Lebanese multimedia artist/activist with an MSc in NGOs and Development.
In Lebanon, the Al Madad Foundation is partnering with the AUB Association’s Community Project Development Unit to improve water, sanitation and hygiene within the country’s Syrian refugee communities. Under the supervision of qualified architects and civil engineers from the AUB Association, refugees will be employed to help dig holes, build toilets, pipe laying, and installing septic tanks and drainage systems.
The Foundation thinks this “cottage industry model” could eventually be extended to other fields such as education, by employing refugee women, many of whom are qualified teachers.
The Foundation chose to focus on WASH services in the camps, not only to “minimise avoidable morbidity and mortality” but also to “minimise the resulting impact upon the local Lebanese environment, including fresh water, ecosystems and the impact upon agriculture”. Hygiene promotion and awareness raising will go hand-in-hand with the provisions of water and sanitation infrastructure.
The UK government is considering implementing cash-for-work (CFW) programmes for both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese as part of their new £50 million (US$ 77 million) humanitarian aid initiative .
Oxfam implements a CFW initiative, that includes latrine construction, in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest refugee complex housing more than 400,000 people. Men and women are paid between 250 and 500 Kenyan Shillings (about US$ 3 – 6) $ per day depending on their skill levels .
The most well-known CFW aid programme was implemented by Mercy Corps in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia. At its peak the seven-month programme employed nearly 18,000 participants and disbursed over US$ 4.5 million in direct payments . Based of their experience in Indonesia and other countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan, Mercy Corps published a CfW manual in 2007 .
 DFID, £50m UK support to Lebanon as refugee numbers soar, Gov.UK, 18 Jul 2013
 Cash-for-work in Kenya: Building latrines at Dadaab camp, Oxfam, 15 Aug 2011
 Doocy, S. et al., 2005. The Mercy Corps Cash for Work Program in post-tsunami Aceh. Available at: http://preventionweb.net/go/2171
 Mercy Corps, 2007. Guide to cash-for-work programming. [online] Portland, OR, USA: Mercy Corps. Available at: <http://www.mercycorps.org/files/file1179375619.pdf>
Source: Al Madad Foundation – Lebanon Emergency Aid Report 2013