WATAN Convention Narrative Report
In 2011, WATAN held its first annual conference in order to support civil society organisations in the region and help to develop their work.
Throughout the past five years, the organisation has been expanding a network of civil society organisations, partners and donors.
WATAN’s fifth convention aims to make further efforts for cooperation and coordination between all these different agencies, through the establishment of integrated programs that meet the different needs of the most vulnerable people.
WATAN also views the convention as an opportunity to establish new channels of communication and relations with donor organisations, and allow teamwork between different organisations and the comprehensive programs of WATAN.
WATAN’s 5th convention carried the title "Sustainable Impact" and gives hope of building an interdependent community integrated with each other, in all sects.
WATAN, presented by its Chairman Mr. Moaz Sibaai, is an aspirant organisation with a clear vision, and is backed by a promising strategy, a professional team and a distinct governance system.
"Sustainable impact" carries the broad goal of assisting specialised persons in practicing their profession in their new world, and accelerating student's return to school, the empowerment of women in their society, to enable those who have lost the breadwinners to earn their daily livelihood again and explains the sustainability of work of the emerging civil society as an important component to the new Syria.
WATAN’s vision is being made a reality thanks to its eight programs, which help in developing reviving communities in its approach to humanitarian support, economy, health and civil society, and benefits from its own experiences to modify and make the changes.
WATAN was successful through the efforts of the team in planning and execution, through the exchange of experiences and by holding workshops and meetings with counterparts from civil society organisations. This success has given a moral boost and will contribute to presenting more work and contribute to the future of humanitarian work.
The convention was held for 2 days from the 19-20th of January and focused on the work of international and local humanitarian organisations and on how to provide humanitarian aid directly to Syrians. There was a great turnout of more than 300 Syrian, Arab and foreign participants from various humanitarian work sectors.
In his speech about NORWAC, Bilal Al-Jabri felt that the responsibility is a shared one amongst all humanitarian organisations, namely to implement charitable activities to deliver aid to the greatest number of people affected and in need.
Tracks and Recommendations
WATAN’s 5th convention included 6 tracks that collectively covered the most important issues that civil society organisations are working on. These include: education and empowerment of communities and civil society, protection, economic and medical empowerment, as well as health and legal frameworks.
These tracks led to many active recommendations concerning researching methods to develop strategic partnerships between international and local institutions, in order to better serve and be more effective in meeting needs. Other recommendations include studying the humanitarian situation and the implications of the current events on civilian and humanitarian work, as well as to address the challenges and identify solutions through internally collaborative workshops. In addition, studying the challenges of integration of refugees in host communities and a wide range of suggestions and mechanisms for future projects with a sustainable impact.
On the sidelines of WATAN’s 5th annual convention there was a WATAN Network conference. In this conference the networks agenda was presented and it included an introduction to the network, its management and operational structure, the number of beneficiaries of the network services in 2016 and the expected number in 2017, and the introduction of network members of their organisations, what they do and where they work. Omar Dirbas, the Syrian organisations affairs coordinator in OCHA spoke about the importance of coordinating platforms, OCHA and the steps, conditions, obligations and benefits of registering Syrian organisations with OCHA. The Network conference came up with some important recommendations:
• Develop training programs to help develop political and civil society leaders.
• The involvement of human resources in besieged areas through the development of long distance education and training mechanisms based on needs assessment.
• Provide general advisory services (human resources – financial and management consultations, etc.)
The conferees discussed many issues including, the extent of the need so as to enhance the work of civil society organisations, the desire to build Syria based on a shared foundations led by professionals that care about the priorities of humanitarian work, boost the economy and livelihood support, promote social harmony and to have innovative solutions for problems in education.
Gazwan Al-Masri, the representative for MUSIAD businessmen, spoke about in his speech what the host country can offer in sponsorship of these kinds of conferences aimed at creating more opportunities and solving problems faced by Turkey. He called on the audience to cooperate proactively to resolve problematic issues on the political and economic level.
WATAN and Donors
Perhaps one the most important events at the WATAN convention was the donors roundtable meeting, where more that 40 representatives of the United Nations, many international organisations and the Turkish Red Crescent participated in. They discussed 3 main topics related to strengthening an organisations work in supporting Syrians in Syria and in countries of asylum, as well as forming local, Arab and foreign partnerships in order to sustain their impact especially with regards to Syrians integrating into Turkish society and women empowerment.
The conference concluded with honouring intellectual figures, activists, experts and academics involved in the conference. WATAN’s partner associations were also honoured, as well as the teams and civil society institutions and all those that work for WATAN.
WATAN would like to express its sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs though NORWAC, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Red Crescent for their support and sponsorship of the WATAN 5th Annual Convention and for all the support they offer civil society organizations and humanitarian work.
Immediately after the convention the WATAN team began working on the recommendations to turn them into plans and projects, so as to effectively translate the findings to the conference participants on all levels and on the ground.
Through these kinds of events WATAN continues to and will always operate at its full capacity to find solutions to challenges, to come up with innovative ideas and to create productive opportunities based on sound research to build a better future for humanitarian work.