Proposal approved for urban upgrading initiative in Rief Damascus

The Cities Alliance has approved a proposal for urban upgrading in Rief Damascus (suburban Damascus), Syria.

The Damascus metropolitan area has experienced explosive growth as people from rural areas migrated to the capital looking for jobs and investment opportunities. In recent years, between 500,000 and one million Iraqi refugees flooded Damascus in an effort to escape unrest in their home country.

Many of these newcomers settled in informal housing, which often have limited access to municipal services such a water, power, sanitation and schools. Around half of the residents of Rief Damascus live in such housing.
The Cities Alliance proposal involves laying the groundwork for an urban upgrading initiative to address the rapid, uncontrolled growth in Rief Damascus. Over a four-month period, a team of local and international experts will assess the situation there and coordinate with local authorities and other stakeholders to create a work plan for a comprehensive urban upgrading initiative.

The application was submitted to the Cities Alliance by the Syrian Ministry of Local Administration and Environment and the Governorate of Rief Damascus, and approved on February 13. It was sponsored by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Rief Damascus upgrading initiative is within the framework of the Syrian government’s efforts to address the issue of informal settlements and reform its outdated urban planning approaches. The Damascus initiative is expected to serve as a model for similar exercises in three additional Syrian cities: Homs, Al-Rakka and Lattakia.
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