“Once you could dig a metre underground to find water,” says a resident of Khurais Village, Salamieh. “Now, you have to reach down 50 or 100 metres.” Syria is currently facing its worst drought in 70 years as a result of unseasonably low levels of rainfall since autumn 2020. Over 60 percent of Syria’s land is vulnerable to drought. Many households must buy their water from private trucking services: expensive, unsustainable and of variable quality.
“The water resources in Salamieh District are very poor,” says Yasmin Haidar, Planning and Construction Manager for the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH). “We are dependent on the streams around the district and on water pipelines from Alkantara and Alshomarieh. Each household has a 500-1,000 litre water tank on the roof, and one day per week to 10 days depending on the location, the authorities pump water to it. Each person gets perhaps 100 litres per week. So this is a problem for washing, for drinking water, and also for watering. It is the same issue in the villages, such as Barri. It’s also due to climate change, because rainfall has become very low over the last 5-10 years, and it’s becoming less year by year.”
AKAH has undertaken a study mapping and modelling water resources in Salamieh. It shows potential ways to develop the water resources and infrastructure in the two most heavily populated areas in the district, the city of Salamieh and Eastern Barri Village. It also indicates how short-to-medium term temporary solutions, such as solarising local boreholes, can benefit other communities.
“Some applications come from the community and we verify them with the water authority, then decide which projects to implement,” says Yasmin. They are selected according to criteria including the severity score of the area, the number of beneficiaries and the sustainability of the proposed intervention.
Explore three of the projects below.