Aryam Farouk – Deir Ezzor
Fatima (pseudonym) transports water by buckets long away from her home, because it is outside the organizational scheme, Fatima said, causing drinking water to not reach her home and those of her neighbors nearby in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor.
This daily struggle to secure the simplest and most urgent necessities of life causes physical damage to her and her children who help in transport water. Fatima says: “Water is indispensable to us. I and my children transport water by buckets and bidons on a daily basis to our house. We do not have a water tank because its high price”.
According to a report issued by the ICRC, Syria suffers from a shortage of drinking water of up to 40 per cent compared to a decade ago, the more than a decade of conflict has severely hampered access to basic services, including access to drinking water. In another report of the ICRC, water shortages are a major and daily concern for the populations across the governorates of northern and eastern Syria regardless of the areas where they reside or different controlling parties.
This article deals with the crisis of providing safe drinking water necessary for domestic use or for irrigation of agricultural land in the areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration in Deir Ezzor governorate.
Agricultural Crops in Deir Ezzor are Damaged by Water Shortages
The residents of Deir Ezzor and its countryside are living through a series of crises, the most important of which is the crisis of water necessary for irrigation, where the ability to provide it has become a heavy burden on the population as a result of several factors, the most important of which is the lack of financial capability of the population to secure water due to the high price of fuel, in addition to the distant residential communities from riverbeds. Moreover, there is the drying up of some dams as a result of the years of drought that the country is going through and the lack of rain, which caused a shortage of water.
In addition, there are other factors that are manifested in the pressures followed by some countries by reducing the proportion of water flowing in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and building dams in order to store it for use in electricity generation.
Abu Khaled (pseudonym) talks about his suffering with water shortages in the village of Al-Ji’a in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor: “The olive trees that were considered my source of livelihood dried up because water does not reach my land, many of these trees that I planted with my hands decades ago have perished.”
Tanks as Alternative for Water Networks
In light of this difficult situation, many residents of the region seek to secure sources of access to drinking water through water tanks at a high cost of up to (2000) Syrian pounds per barrel with a capacity of (200) liters, which is a great burden on the population.
Odai (pseudonym) from the town of Muhaimida in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor said, “My only source of income is my job salary, which is 260,000 Syrian pounds, equivalent to (60) dollars. I pay 60-70 thousand Syrian pounds per month only to buy water, which is barely enough for my family”.
Drilling Wells to Compensate Acute Water Shortages
Many rural residents have resorted to digging wells in order to compensate for the loss of access by irrigation associations to their agricultural land as well as personal use needs.
Salem (pseudonym) used part of his personal savings to dig a well he uses to water his small orchard around his house as well as for his personal use.
The working infrastructure of the water supply depends entirely on electricity, but the rate of electricity availability on daily basis is about 6/24, which means that the water comes for the same period, which leads to pressure on the water network and the people are not satisfied with the amount of water available.
Mahmoud (pseudonym), a resident of the town of Muhaimida in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor, said: “Since the beginning of the conflict, we have not been able to access drinking water through the water station in the area, which was supplying us with water, due to excesses by the people and the irregularity of the electricity supply, so I had to allocate from 20-25% of my monthly income to fill the water by the owners of tankers.”
Photo of tanks used in homes with a capacity of 1000 liters – Date: 25 July 2022 – Town of Muhaimida, west of Deir Ezzor
Due to the lack of drinking water, people resort to alternatives that are of lower quality and may be contaminated, which causes health repercussions, and children are among the groups most affected by it.
Deir Ezzor villages, especially those that rely on the Euphrates River water for drinking, are experiencing severe cases of diarrhea, enteritis and rashes attributed by doctors of the region to the contamination of the Euphrates River water.
In light of the pollution of water sources, some people, especially those who have the solvency, buy mineral water to avoid any infection with diseases, as clean water is essential for proper development and protects children from the transmission of diseases to them through contaminated water such as typhoid.
Recently, there have been many water filtration stations that the people resort to in order to obtain clean drinking water, as their price is less expensive than automatically bottled water. The price of water bidon with a capacity of (25) liters may reach (500) Syrian pounds, or about (0.11) dollars, which is a low price for the price of a can one liter of mineral water at the price of (1200) Syrian pounds and of almost the same quality.
Water purifier in the village of Sa’wa, west of Deir Ezzor, photo date: July 20, 2022. The author of the article got the photo from a worker at the water purification plant
Abu Ali (pseudonym), who owns a vehicle he uses in providing filtered water, says that “Recently, there has been a high demand for filtered water due to the spread of diseases resulting from water pollution.”
The Role of Civil Society Organizations
Civil society organizations have contributed to many attempts to extend a helping hand to the people of the region. Concern Worldwide distributed chlorine granules to the residents to put in water tanks, which contributes to the purification of water and make it somewhat usable, in addition to the rehabilitation and maintenance of water stations such as the water station of the town of “Muhaimida” through the maintenance of station filters in addition to external maintenance (fence) and the establishment of external estuaries. On the other hand, it provided maintenance for three water pumping stations in the area from “Hajin” to the town of “Baghouz” in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.
Water station in the town of Jazrat Albu Hamid – photo date 18 July 2022
Source: One of the station employees.
The early intervention system has also rehabilitated the Shaqra village water station as well as the Al Hssan town station in an attempt to solve a problem that is one of the basic elements of life.
Everyone has the right to water. According to International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, the right to water is essential for a dignified life and is vital for the realization of many other rights, such as the rights to health, life, and an adequate standard of living.
The UN General Assembly also recognized the right of everyone to have access to clean water at a reasonable price.
 Syria water crisis: Up to 40% less drinking water after 10 years of war
 Millions dealing with sporadic water shortages, crippled health services in north-east Syria
 International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, The Right to Water.
 Peace, dignity and equality on a healthy planet, the United Nations.