Upgrading Informal Settlements in Rief Damascus- Preparatory Grant Assistance



Approval Date
Actual Completion Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type
Syrian Arab Republic


It is estimated that the Damascus Metropolitan Area had a population of 4.14 million in 2005 and that this population was increasing at almost 5 percent per annum. If trends continue, the Damascus area could well host over eight million inhabitants by 2025. As Syria's capital and locus for economic concentration, employment and investment opportunities, the Damascus area has attracted poor rural migrants as well as the middle classes, considerable manufacturing, service industries, and most recently, between half and one million Iraqi refugees.  Practically all of this growth in Rief Damascus has been due to informal (or "informal" as it is frequently termed by Syrian authorities) urban processes. At least half the current population of Rief Damascus lives in informal settlements, and the figure could be considerably higher. Presently there is a great opportunity for effective reform of the ways which Syria approaches its urban sector, including recognition of the importance of informal urbanization as a key factor in development. And nowhere are such new approaches needed as in the Governorate of Rief Damascus and its associated municipal councils. An urban upgrading initiative in Rief Damascus will directly support the Governorate and its municipalities in understanding the scope and dynamics of the issues involved, and will help bring together the main government, private, and civil society stakeholders to develop agreed policies and actions which can demonstrate effective upgrading approaches and new mechanisms to guide and organize future development. An urban upgrading initiative in Rief Damascus can be seen as a local, problem-based approach which will complement regional and national level reform in the urban sector. 
The objective of this application is to lay the groundwork for a complete urban upgrading exercise which will address the issues of unsustainable, rapid and uncontrolled growth in the peripheries of the Damascus metropolitan area and develop a long term strategy, a capital investment plan, phased action plans, and also identify pilot demonstration projects The specific objectives of the short, preliminary urban upgrading are to confirm and elaborate the scope of the problems in Rief Damascus, assess capacities and capacity building requirements, and engage local authorities and local stakeholders in constructive dialogue and consultation. It will also ensure that there is effective liaison with national policy reform and urban planning changes. Better community consultation and participation will be a prominent feature to understand and capture their needs, fears and aspirations.
The proposed preliminary urban upgrading for Rief Damascus will extend over a four month period. It will involve two intensive missions of a small team of highly qualified local and international consultants, supervised by the WB Task Manager, as follows: 1.) Initial reconnaissance and consultative: Technical scoping, specialist use of participatory techniques aimed at gathering a deeper understanding of the community profile (using focus group discussions with all segments of the community), and the production of an initial discussion paper on the form of a follow-on comprehensive urban upgrading application (three weeks); 2.) Final consultation with Government counterparts and donor partners which will confirm the follow-on urban upgrading plan and activities (one week)
Expected Impacts and Results
A work plan fully agreed by all stakeholders for a subsequent comprehensive urban upgrading for Rief Damascus Agreed short-list of possible interventions and possible pilot areas