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Understanding resilience: Perspectives from Syrians

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Understanding resilience: Perspectives from Syrians sought to examine resilience in Syria, from the experiences and reflections shared by Syrians inside the country. CARE and many other humanitarian agencies generally articulate resilience as “the ability of people, households, communities, countries and systems to absorb, adapt to and recover from shocks and stresses.” The research focused on the following questions:

1. What does resilience mean from the perspective of people living in Syria?

• What capacities do households and communities use and what strategies do households and communities adopt to become resilient in such a changing context?
• What are the main factors that affect household and community resilience in an active conflict area?

2. How has the conflict affected the role of women within their families and communities (positively and negatively)?

3. How does it relate to the humanitarian community’s and CARE’s definitions of resilience?

• Is CARE’s understanding of supporting resilience suitable for the context within Syria?
• How can the humanitarian sector build/improve on the capacities and actions that households and communities take to build their own resilience in Syria?

4. What systems need to be strengthened to better support the resilience of households and communities in protracted crisis?

The results of this research are meant to contribute nuanced insight and in-depth understanding of resilience in Syria, in order to both inform humanitarian efforts, as well as to reflect on CARE’s Resilience Framework which provided the framework for analysis.


This research prioritised in-depth and community-based qualitative methods, using a Participatory Ethnographic Evaluation and Research (PEER) methodology in which researchers already living in the research communities had access to locations and rapport with participants, that would otherwise have been very difficult and time consuming to achieve by an external field team. In conducting six months of longitudinal, qualitative research, the study included a total of 328 unique participants from 11 governorates (the majority from Aleppo and Homs), residing at the time of research in Idleb, Al Hassakeh, Raqqa, Aleppo and one host community in Jordan.

Participants were visited and re-visited over seven waves of research at two-weekly intervals, and they engaged in a range of guided and non-guided tools, including Key Informant Interviews, Life Stories, and Journaling. Participants were selected using a combination of purposive and convenience sampling, with the aim of capturing a broad variety of demographic features and variety of experiences Syrians faced during the conflict. As qualitative research, the sample is not meant to be representative of Syrians as a whole or any specific subgroup, but to share experiences and voices drawn from a broad range of individuals who may not be linked to any specific humanitarian assistance or programme.