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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Lebenswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture No. 1/12

Droughts in Syria:
An Assessment of Impacts and Options for Improving the Resilience of the Poor

Perrihan Al-Riffai and Clemens Breisinger
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C., USA

Dorte Verner
The World Bank, Washington, D.C., USA

Tingju Zhu
International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C., USA


Droughts in Syria have occurred during almost every second year over the past half century, and may become even more frequent in the future. This paper assesses the economic and social implications of droughts using a dynamic computable general equilibrium model for Syria. Results show that growth in economic output (GDP) during drought years can be close to one percentage point lower compared to non-drought years. Food security and the poor are hard hit by droughts, mainly through the loss of capital, incomes and higher food/feed prices. Poverty levels increase by about 0.3 to 1.2 percentage points during an average drought and stay above “non-drought levels” even when the drought is over. Poor farm households are hardest hit, followed by rural nonfarm and urban households. Actions for improving the resilience of the poor should focus on agriculture, non-farm employment opportunities and social safety nets.

Keywords: Syria, Middle East and North Africa, drought, poverty, food security

JEL: C68, O53, Q54

Vol. 51 (2012), No. 1: 21-49