Urban Upgrading Strategy for Rief Damascus (Syria)



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


In March 2009, preparatory assistance from the Cities Alliance was granted to the Ministry of Local Administration (then Local Administration and Environment) and to the Governorate of Rief Damascus to undertake preliminary investigations of informal urban development in the Damascus fringes and to prepare the present application. Preliminary analysis carried out identified four typologies of informal settlement in the areas of Metropolitan Damascus, which are under strong urbanisation pressures: 1.) informal land subdivision on private agricultural land; 2.) scattered, random conversion of prime agricultural land found around existing towns; 3.) informal settlements or pockets found on non-agriculture lands and mountainous State lands and 4.) village settlements relatively far from Damascus which are slowly densifying and expanding.
The objective of this application is to prepare a medium- to long-term urban upgrading strategy for Rief Damascus, including preparation of a first phase demonstration projects. The strategy will include four building blocks:  (1) a citywide urban upgrading strategy and actionable interventions to upgrade nine existing informal residential areas which have been identified as the ones under the most urbanisation pressure and need; (2) practical mechanisms to limit and deal with the chaotic conversion of agricultural land to urban use; (3) a policy for affordable land and housing systems for future population increases; and (4) institutional capacity building through on-the-job training and learning exchange.
1. GIS, Spatial and Demographic Analysis and Assistance to Municipalities 2. Citywide land, housing and infrastructure assessments 3. Preparation of neighbourhood plans and actionable interventions 4. Assessment of Municipal Management Needs and Provision of on-the-job Capacity Building and Study Tour. 5. Compilation of specialised assessments and practical tools to prepare a medium- to long-term urban upgrading strategy.  
Expected Impacts and Results
The overall expected outcome is the adoption by local and national authorities of the upgrading strategy for Rief Damascus and starting the implementation of high priority investment projects in some (or all) areas. Monitoring of the following indicators will be carried out by the Ministry of Local Administration over the 18 months and will be part of the final reporting to the Cities Alliance: 1) Adoption of recommendations for rationalisation and amalgamation of local unit boundaries and service areas in Rief Damascus 2) Official adoption of revised tanzim plans for existing informal neighborhoods 3) Official adoption of model '"popular" neighborhood tanzim plans in (a) Rief Damascus and (b) nationally 4) Adoption by elected municipal councils of integrated upgrading plans 5) Adoption by municipalities of recommended management and budgeting improvements 6) Endorsement by the Ministry of Local Administration and the elected local councils of Governorate of Rief Damascus of the overall urban upgrading strategy and its promotion as an effective approach for urban upgrading nationally. 7) Efforts to leverage follow-up financing and start of implementation.