Country’s affluence of water resources has not preserved civilians from water scarcity
Enab Baladi Issue # 91– Sun, Nov. 17, 2013
Syrians have not only lost that feeling of safety and security, but also basic life supplies such as water. Given the war in the country and the regime’s furious attacks and bombardments for more than two years and a half, myriad water pipelines and sanitation system have been badly affected in diverse Syrian villages and cities. A study carried out by “Syrian economy’s workshop” has reported that reconstructing and refurbishing sanitation system and water sector would require a budget of a half billion Syrian pounds.
On February 8th, 2013, a report released by UNICEF, the first of its kind since the beginning of the crisis, elaborated the status of water sector and sanitation system. According to it, water supplies in areas of conflict receded to one third of what they used to be before the crisis. That is, residents of those areas get 25 liters of water per day, whereas two years ago they used to get 75 liters.
In the areas of ongoing conflict, it’s extremely difficult, not to mention impossible, to get water. Heavy fighting in the province of Damascus suburb has caused massive damage in water networks and sanitation system which led to water cut off at most of areas over there especially in the eastern Gouta. As a result, residents had to pull water from wells that were used to irrigate crops. Not to forget that wells’ water is polluted and contain a big amount of bacteria that cause many serious diseases such as hepatitis, typhoid and so many others. Unfortunately, and in the light of the decline of medical supplies and vaccines of such diseases, a health catastrophe has been highly expected. Additionally, pulling wells’ water is considered an extra financial load over residents. The price of one non-portable barrel of water is no less than 100 Syrian pounds. It, yet, covers the needs of an average family for no more than two days. According to its vendors, the price rise of this kind of water is due to the power outages and shortages of fuel used to pull out wells’ water in addition to the high cost of this operation.
In a talk given to Althawra; one of the regime’s newspapers, Bassam Hanna, the minister of water resources has stated that water management of this season has been successful due to the precautions arranged and taken by the management council. That is, water rationing was barely noticeable comparing to previous seasons where it increased citizens’ suffers and concerns due to the scarcity of water resources.
Hanna indicated that rationing was not applied by the ministry of water resources this summer, despite the increase in water consumption by the citizens which significantly has exceeded its normal level comparing to the recent hot summers in Damascus. Nevertheless, during the water consumption’s peak-months, there was no need for rationing and water in pipelines has flowed constantly.
It is worth noting that Syria is one of the countries classified under the water poverty line. The Syrian capita’s share of water ranges between 700-900 cubic meters per year, which is below the global line of water deficit, estimated at 1,000 cubic meters per year. That is evidently a serious defect since Syria is considered a rich country when it comes to natural water resources.
The imbalance between affluence of water resources and the capita’s low share of water is probably due to the massive waste of drinking water which exceeded 60%. The waste is resulted by the use of ill water pipelines and the lack of regular maintenance required. Moreover, agriculture sector requires around 90% of water consumption in the country. Such a large proportion is probably due to poor irrigation methods adopted which cause water wastage and the lack of modern drip irrigation networks in most agricultural areas of Syria. In the light of these diverse deficits, government has not made any effort to raise awareness on consuming water duly in the agriculture sector nor facilitate providing territories with drip irrigation pipes.
Translated by: Rahaf Abbar