Building brighter futures

FAO helps Syrian refugees connect with enterprise in Turkey

Faced with the problem of an influx of Syrian refugees in Turkey needing work, and at the same time a lack of skilled agricultural workers, FAO stepped in to train the refugees, such as Abdul - pictured above right with his young son Mohamed - and many have now found jobs. It means brighter futures for the refugees and the host communities. ©FAO/Carly Learson


The village of Sarit in southern Turkey lies just 100 kilometres from Aleppo – one of the hot spots of the Syrian conflict – and has received an influx of Syrian refugees seeking safety. Being so close to Syria, most of the residents speak Arabic as well as Turkish, and have welcomed the new families.

But there has been an outflow too of Sarit's young people who leave for the cities in search of further education and work.

Many of the remaining residents are small landowners growing olives and raising livestock who need trained agricultural and other workers to continue their livelihoods.  

For the past year, FAO has worked with government and private sector partners to develop training programs for the refugees and Turkish citizens in the skill areas that are most needed by the farmers. Hundreds of Syrian refugees and host community members trained by FAO have attended job fairs, been introduced to private sector companies and found jobs through the networks they developed.

“We’re all getting old here,” Nadiye (left), a Turkish farmer who has employed refugees from the program, said. “It’s nice to have some young people to keep the village lively.” Right: Sarit in southern Turkey lies just 100 kilometres from Aleppo – one of the hot spots of the Syrian conflict.

Abdallah was one of the training participants. An electrician, he is unable to work in his profession in Turkey without a work permit, but he quickly picked up the skills he needed to work in agriculture.

“I’m from the city, so I’ve never had much exposure to agriculture before,” he said.

“I really liked the training, and I’m finding that I like working outdoors. I will probably do something similar when I go back to Syria.”

When the training courses were finished, FAO set up job fairs to introduce the newly skilled individuals to potential employers.  Abdallah and his friends went to a job fair at the Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where they met local farm owners and other entrepreneurs.

“The job fair was so helpful in building a network - almost every day we get a call or a message from someone who needs work done. Everyone knows who we are now!” Abdallah said.

New skills, new opportunities 

Abdul (top photo) fled with his family from rural Aleppo three years ago. He tried to find work in Gaziantep, and then moved his family to Sanliurfa where he picked up work in construction from time to time, but it wasn’t enough to support the family. Last year he heard about FAO’s programme, and registered to participate in livestock training - a comprehensive course covering animal health, reproduction, physiology and welfare, farm management and milk production.

After a month of theoretical and practical training, he completed his on-the-job training with Haci, a local cattle farmer. After the two months of training, Haci was impressed and offered Abdul a full time job.

“He’s part of the family now,” Haci said. “He works with my children, and his children play with my grandchildren.”

Abdul said that without the contacts he made through FAO’s training he wouldn’t know where to find such work.

“I have work I enjoy, my family is happy, and I am learning more every day,” he said. 

“(Abdul is) part of the family now,” Haci (above, with his grandson) said. “He works with my children, and his children play with my grandchildren.” ©FAO/Carly Learson

So far 900 people including over 400 women and 300 members of the Turkish host community across five provinces have been trained through the program, and many of the participants have gone on to find jobs. A second phase for an additional 650 people is planned for the remainder of 2018, and will expand in to new provinces including Kilis where Syrian refugees now make up 95 percent of the population.

The project is funded by the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the Government of Japan, and is implemented in partnership with Turkey's Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and in collaboration with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

Find out more:

About the project

FAO’s Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan January-December 2018

FAO’s Syria Humanitarian Response Plan 2018 

Reaping rewards: Meet the Syrian refugees in Turkey who are learning agricultural skills for a better future


1. No poverty, 8. Decent work and economic growth, 16. Peace justice and strong institutions