Between November 2014 and February 2015, The Aleppo Project at CEU’s Center for Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery surveyed 1004 people from Aleppo on their memories and experiences with their city and their vision for its future.
The survey was initially designed by CEU’s School of Public Policy (SPP) students Tamilla Dauletbayeva, Attila Mester, and Yuxin Wang as part of their graduation project. They conducted interviews with Aleppians in Turkey and cooperated with expert pollsters and researchers, including SPP staff and The Aleppo Project fellows Jason Heung, AlHakam Shaar, and Armenak Tokmajyan, as well as director Robert Templer.
What were Aleppians Surveyed about?
The survey offers deep insight into important urban topics and issues in Aleppo such as social life, space use, property ownership and damage, transport, public services, places of common significance, and inward and outward migration. Questions were asked in light of residents’ experiences in the city, their vision for the future of Aleppo and changes that would bring them back to their city. The survey will also contribute to the preservation of the memories of Aleppians of certain aspects that will never be the same again.
The questions are included in the data spreadsheet. They were divided into four sections with different focuses.
- General Information: ten biographical questions such as gender, age, education, and pre-war occupation.
- Your memory of Aleppo: 20 questions that start with respondents’ household and district make up and explore their social and spiritual connections to the city, as well as their experience with its formal services and modes of operation. This is the most important part of the survey because it lends itself to different types of analysis. Unlike the following two sections of the survey, Your memory of Aleppo was delivered to all respondents.
- Your vision of Aleppo: 20 open-ended questions to elicit important places and services in the city to be prioritized for reconstruction. Because of the questions’ interview-like nature, the designers chose to employ this section in rebel-held Aleppo where the volunteer surveyor was able to spend a longer time interviewing a smaller number of people, 94. As a result, answers in this section cannot be presumed to represent the views of the average Aleppo resident. However, the extensive answers offer a wide perspective into many of the big problems that eastern Aleppo suffered from both before and during the conflict.
- GSAPP Additional Questions: upon the request of our partners at Columbia University’s GSAPP, we added six open-ended questions about space use and public engagement as well as inbound and outbound migration before the conflict to the survey’s online version.
For logistical reasons and because of the large number of questions, particularly the open-ended ones, some sections were only asked to some respondents, depending on the location and means used for surveying them as can be seen in the table below.
How were people surveyed?
The responses from 1004 Aleppians were collected in four different ways, and they are marked in the dataset accordingly.
Consideration for researchers wishing to do analysis of the data:
- Although we present all responses in one datasheet, there are slight variations in the question sets due to practical obstacles. As such, some questions were only answered by certain subsets of the surveyed population. Also, one question came in two contrasting versions, depending on whether or not the respondent group was assumed to be in Aleppo. This question is Why did you (not) leave Aleppo? Answers to such questions should be assessed more qualitatively.
- The question Which neighborhood in Aleppo did you live in included common district names in Aleppo as prompts, but respondents could also write in names. Most responded with the name of the district or neighborhood where they actually lived in the city. A few, however, responded with the district where they are officially registered as part of their paternal family, sometimes going back generations, with the civil authorities. This was particularly common with al-Bayyada, aj-Jalloum, and Sahet Bizeh. A few respondents cited the name of their hometown in Aleppo province or in other provinces, rather than a district in Aleppo. Many of these respondents lived outside the city, but within the province. While The Aleppo Project focuses mainly on the province’s capital, we believe in the social and urban importance of the organic relationship between the city and the towns and villages in the countryside.
- The translation into English of the vast majority of district names was the closest phonetic transcription of the Arabic names. However, certain translations that were popular in Aleppo, e.g. used in shop signs and business cards, were adopted. The prominent examples are New Aleppo, rather than Halab al-Jadeedeh; Nile Street, rather than Sahre’e an-Neel; and Baghdad Station, rather than Mahattet Baghdad.
- District naming in Aleppo is largely organic and rarely follows municipal categorization. As such, some districts are many times larger than others. This resulted in more answers coming from larger districts such as al-Hamdaniyyeh, New Aleppo, Salah ad-Deen, and Sayf ad-Dauleh than from smaller Neighborhoods such as al-Kura and al-Mogambo.
- A large number of respondents answered Ethnic origin with their hometown, district, or national origin, e.g. Syrian, or Palestinian Syrian. A few others gave critical or sarcastic answers such as the globe, Africa, or We are all descendants of Adam and Eve. A similar trend exists among the answers for Religion.
- Many seemingly closed-ended questions will resist automatic graphing because online respondents were able to write answers that included explanations. We standardized the answers which, when changed, did not lose the original meaning intended. An example of this type of answer was Number of Children. Are they with you? All answers were given the format Number (digits), Yes/No. Example: 2, Yes. Those who said they did not have children were coded 0. Some did not say if their children were with them, so their answers looked like this: 2.
- A note about the online data—in about 10 cases, respondents submitted more than one survey in a short period of time, which appeared to be the result of ‘double-clicking’ the submit button. In about five cases, surveys were submitted with no information. We have deleted these records from the data set.
Who can use this data?
We publish our Aleppo Survey data on the basis that it should be available to Aleppians as well as researchers that will contribute to the understanding of Aleppo and help plan for its future. However, if you use the data in your research, we request that you contact us, explaining the purpose of your research. The Aleppo Project and the students who developed the survey must be credited. We would like to publish any of the work using the survey on our site.
To download the survey data (in Excel), click here.