Lesson Plan: Relief Organizations Respond to Regional Conflicts in Southwest Asia
Lesson Plan: Relief Organizations Respond to Regional Conflicts in Southwest Asia

Lesson Plan: Relief Organizations Respond to Regional Conflicts in Southwest Asia

Powerful Geography Project

Relief Organizations Respond to Regional Conflicts in Southwest Asia

Developed by Matt Lyons and Kivett Gresham

Subject Area: Geography
Grade Level:  High School
Time Frame/Duration: 4 55-minute class periods


By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand how political power is expressed geographically as control over people, land, and resources, as illustrated by shatterbelts.
  • Discuss job opportunities available through non-governmental organizations to help aid people in these areas.


1. What is a shatterbelt?
2. How do shatterbelts disrupt the political organization of a region?


To be used in the North Africa/Southwest Asia unit for World Geography or the Political unit AP Human Geography.
shatterbelt * geopolitics * refugee * non-governmental organization (NGOs)


government | social work | military | sciences | psychology



Students will explore the idea of what a shatterbelt is, how they occur, and the role of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) play in aiding people residing within a zone of conflict, and what career paths are available through NGOs.



AP Human Geography

  • Learning Objective PSO-4.C: Describe the concepts of political power and territoriality as used by geographers.


World Geography Studies (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Standards)

  • (13) Government. The student understands the spatial characteristics of a variety of global political units. The student is expected to:

(A) interpret maps to explain the division of land, including man-made and natural borders, into separate political units such as cities, states, or countries; and

(B) compare maps of voting patterns and political boundaries to make inferences about the distribution of political power.

  • (14) Government. The student understands the processes that influence political divisions, relationships, and policies. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze current events to infer the physical and human processes that lead to the formation of boundaries and other political divisions;

(B) compare how democracy, dictatorship, monarchy, republic, theocracy, and totalitarian systems operate in specific countries; and

(C) analyze the human and physical factors that influence control of territories and resources, conflict/war, and international relations of sovereign nations such as China, the United States, Japan, and Russia and international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).

  • (21) Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including technology. The student is expected to:

(A) analyze and evaluate the validity and utility of multiple sources of geographic information such as primary and secondary sources, aerial photographs, and maps;

(B) identify places of contemporary geopolitical significance on a map;

(C) create and interpret different types of maps to answer geographic questions, infer relationships, and analyze change;

(E) identify different points of view about an issue or current topic.

  • (22) Social studies skills. The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:

(B) generate summaries, generalizations, and thesis statements supported by evidence;

(D) create original work using effective written communication skills, including proper citations and understanding and avoiding plagiarism.

  • (23) Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others. The student is expected to:

(A) plan, organize, and complete a research project that involves asking geographic questions; acquiring, organizing, and analyzing information; answering questions; and communicating results;

(B) use case studies and GIS to identify contemporary challenges and to answer real-world questions; and

(C) use problem-solving and decision-making processes to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.



For Students: For Teachers:
The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED): https://www.acleddata.com/dashboard/ https://reliefweb.int/jobs  (click on Theme and/or Region under Filter Results)
Active USG Programs for Syria: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/06.24.19%20-%20USG%20Syria%20Complex%20Emergency%20Program%20Map.pdf https://www.humanrightscareers.com/magazine/10-human-rights-organizations-offering-entry-level-ngo-jobs/
Active USG Programs for Yemen: https://reliefweb.int/map/yemen/yemen-active-usg-programs-yemen-response-last-updated-060719 https://ngojobboard.org/
Active USG Programs for Iraq: https://reliefweb.int/map/iraq/iraq-active-usg-programs-iraq-response-last-updated-062419 https://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-the-middle-east



Collaborative work.



Students should have a basic understanding of the human and physical geography of Southwest Asia.



  1. Using historic maps, students figure out why Southwest Asia would be considered a shatterbelt.


  1. Pairs of students should work together to point out a historical and a current process that would make it a shatterbelt. https://www.vox.com/a/maps-explain-the-middle-east



  1. Student will conduct research in order to learn the location of violent activity in Southwestern Asia during the last 20 years using the ACLED website (see Materials for Students.)


  1. Students will research needs of refugees based on the Active USG Program Maps. Students should construct a list of regional priorities.


  1. Students will research NGOs in order to discover agencies that can assist refugees based on the prioritized list from the previous step.


  1. Students will create an NGO job posting for a specific needs present in Southwestern Asia (See Materials for Teachers).



  1. Students react in writing to the following prompt, citing evidence from their research:

“Shatterbelts disrupt the political organization of a region. Respond using evidence.” 



Students can work in pairs to develop answers to the written portions of the lesson (for ELL students). Additional time for reading can be provided to students who need it.



FRQ from AP College Board.



After this lesson, teachers can follow up with by having students look at the connection of shatterbelts to agricultural development.