“Sustainable Impact” – the 5th WATAN convention, 19th-21st of January 2017

Posted on Feb 8, 2017

NORWACs partner WATAN/Khayr

WATAN is a Syrian NGO registered in UK and Turkey. It is a union for several civil society entities, including Khayr (humanitarian/charity), Sada (media), Horiat (human rights), and Jeel Alhorriya (education). NORWAC has been working with WATAN/Khayr since its foundation in 2011.  Khayr has a total of 591 employees. 83 % of them are based inside Syria. Khayr has strong and on-going partnerships with 15 international partners including CARE International, Norwegian People’s Aid, Netherland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNICEF Turkey. Khayr is able to deliver aid in large parts of Syria, reaching some very-difficult-to-reach communities, mainly due to their locally based staff and to a very well established network of local partners

inside Syria. NORWAC’s projects with Khayr includes support to medical facilities with medicine, consumables, equipment, salaries and a blood bank with particular focus on providing proper diagnostic medical services as well as supporting the annual WATAN convention held in Istanbul.


WATAN- convention

This year was the 5th time for WATAN to hold their convention and the theme was “Sustainable Impact”. The convention in Istanbul 19th-21th January 2017 was supported by NORWAC as well as The Netherland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish Red Crescent. The convention is seen as an important meeting point for all Syrian NGOs and an effort to support and strengthen the Syrian civil society.

NORWAC representative at the convention was Dr. Belal Al-Jabri, one of our consultants working with our Syria projects. Belal had a speech at the opening ceremony where he presented NORWAC’s partnership with WATAN/Khayr and shared our intentions to continue the good co-operations. Belal also talked about the ongoing political changes regarding the cease fire and encouraged the Syrian NGOs to be prepared for all possible scenarios. The Turkish Government and the Syrian coalition was symbolically represented at both the opening and closing ceremony. 



Like at the previous conventions several of WATAN’s and other invited Syrian NGOs held seminars and different form of training and capacity building. Belal participated at the Donor Roundtable where there were representatives from several international organisations and main donors like UN-OCHA (Head of the Turkey office is the Norwegian Trond Jensen), the EU commission, CARE International, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) among others.

The three Roundtable topics were:

  • Strengthening local Systems inside Syria

The main focus and title of convention was «Sustainable impact». The debate was about how Syrian NGOs can move from short-term acute aid towards long-term strategic and sustainable impact in the Syrian society.  It is of great importance to strengthen the local systems inside Syria. This focus is even more stressing in the coming period regardless of the outcome of Astana negotiations.

  • Strengthening local systems in Turkey 

It is also of importance to strengthen the local systems in Turkey and promote enhanced social cohesion in areas with a high influx of Syrians refugees. Belal reports on a clear and stronger interest towards integration of Syrians in Turkey. Recently, Turkish government has interviewed many Syrians as part of a process of granting some Syrians Turkish citizenship.

  • As Local as possible, International as necessary

WATAN is currently building a new structure of the organization to help them meet the managerial challenges in 2017. They are almost done with fusion plan. All daughter organisations are now under the name of WATAN and they are identified as programs.

The WATAN chairperson is interested to find out if there is any advantage for them to register WATAN in Norway and Germany and to have their own representative in Europe.


Thank you to Dr. Belal Al- Jabri

 “I wish to thank you for participating in the WATAN’s 5th Donor Roundtable on Thursday 19th January 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey. Your participation, insight provided and points raised were of great value to the debate. “ Moaz Al-Sibaai, the WATAN Chairman.