Results of the second phase of mapping Syrian civil society actors

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Terms & Definitions


This research aims to include as many Syrian CSOs as possible, therefore the purpose was not meant to incorporate a narrow sample, it was to include as many organizations as possible in order to be representative of all CSOs in Syria. However, this task has proven to be exceptionally difficult due to various factors, most notable being difficulty gaining access into certain areas in addition to security concerns. The data collection process is extremely complicated in regime-held areas putting its conductors under great risk of being incarcerated. Similarly, collecting data in ISIL-controlled area is a precarious task. Therefore, the CfS team attempted to depend on the data they had most access to.

All the aforementioned considerations have prompted researchers to follow different and various data gathering methods befitting the current reality in surveyed regions, thus the data- gathering process was not only limited to one source (the observer/data collector),but another approach has also been applied by making use of available data that is derived from previous surveys conducted by CfS, in addition to other information provided by reliable partner organizations.

A team of around 80 people worked on the survey and the cross-examination process, 48 of whom are observers and administrators from the CfS team, as well as a number of temporary observers in some areas, who have all received basic training in the subject of data collection procedures as well as being well-educated on the research’s goals. The team members have been all selected based on their previous activities in civil work and their favorable status among local communities and organizations.

As per the main data source from which the information included in this report have been drawn, the process has been conducted by trained members who received sufficient training on the principles of data collection, which consists of fact-checking, cross-examination, and data review. Below we demonstrate the main and secondary sources of the data collection process:

Primary data has been gathered by conducting interviews with the primary data sources, such as organizations, institutions and Syrian work teams

  • Direct interviews with organizations: conducted by the observers or the regional representatives, in CSOs’ operation areas or in some cases the conferences were held online.
  • Immediate Remarks made by the observers: A number of observers are spread across every Syrian province and each local team is managed by a regional official in addition to the Turkey team and the organization’s head office. Data is compiled into an electronic platform in order to be examined and cross-examined against other sources, this task is undertaken by the data inspection office, which in turn forwards it to be later processed and presented by the organization’s main headquarters in Berlin.
  • Info shared by organizations through their official public channels.
  • Information provided by CfS partners, such as networks and active Syrian organizations
  • Available data obtained from previous surveys.
  • Electronic surveys and Data harvesting which was applied to Facebook in particular and partially on other secondary platforms.

This research includes above mentioned institutions, civil and activist initiatives which have a defined name and an official means of communication, excluding the following organizations (view terms and definitions section)

  • International Organizations and their branches in Syria
  • Government Organizations
  • Quasi-governmental Organizations
  • Local Council and Health Directorates
  • Social media-based projects (Facebook and Twitter)
  • Inactive Organizations

This study examines the results of competency evaluation survey for 748 Syrian organizations that meet the standards of our survey which responded to the survey and answered the majority of the questions (100 questions), while around 200 organizations refused to take part in the study, in addition to 75 organizations we were unable to reach.

For the purpose of this research Syria has been divided into 3 geographical regions as follows:

Northern Region: it includes the provinces of Al-Hassaka, Dei-Ezzor, Al-Raqqa, Aleppo, Idlib, Lattakia Countryside and northern countryside of Hama
The Central Region: Damascus and its countryside, in addition to the provinces of Homs and Hama.
The Southern Region: Daraa, Qunietra and Al-Sweida’a

Each region has been overseen by one leader and a number of observers who work together as a team in order to collect data from the aforementioned sources and check their credibility. Team leaders also gathered data from organizations based in neighboring countries.

After the observer has completed the data insertion process for one or multiple organizations in a certain region where they are appointed, the supervisor/leader conducts a primary review to ensure the that information is cohesive, reasonable and that all required fields in the table are properly filled. In case of an error the leader returns the document to the observer in order to recheck it. Consequently the info gets transferred to the examination officer who in turn compares it to other available data obtained from different sources which are sometimes lists provided by partners or through referrals from active figures in the region, in the case that gaps are present in the material the examination officer passes it back to the regional team leader in order to reassess it.

The study has also relied on lists provided by partners in addition to a general social media survey results conducted by the technical team based on general internet and social media research techniques, a process that helped locate numerous organizations especially those which operate outside the country, in addition to helping us draw comparisons with available data that was provided by our team and partners.

In order to analyze the required information and compare them with the documents provided by our partners and data published online, a revision has been performed by the following parties:

Local Observer (primary review during the data collection stage)
Regional team leader (checking local observers’ data)
examination unit (examining regional team leaders’ data)
Data indexing unit (checks for errors in indexing and classification)

Durations of the study

The data has been mainly collected during the period between 1/10/2015 and 21/03/2016, however, the duration of the survey was pushed back until 15/09/2016 in order to ensure all the data from areas that are difficult to access is complete and fully-updated. Additionally, the team worked on refining the data and correcting errors that occurred during the collection stage as well as updating the general data up until the beginning of 2017 when the report was concluded.

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