Water Scarcity in Syria Affects 1 Million, WHO Report Says

By Diogo Augusto

11 Nov 2022 by The Water Diplomat

A new World Health Organisation (WHO) report on the water situation in the North East of Syria (NES) reveals the situation of one million people in the region as they struggle to access clean water.

The report, entitled “WHO’s Report on Water Situation and Diarrheal Diseases in NES”, focuses on the Alouk water station in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, an area controlled by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

460.000 of the Governorate’s inhabitants rely on the Alouk water station for drinking water and a further 500.000 - including 140.000 internally displaced people distributed through several camps - also rely on water transported from there. Many of the region’s healthcare services are also dependent on water provided by this station.

However, this water station goes out of service frequently leaving these people forced to buy unsafe private water at high costs or to use unsafe sources. Many are drilling their own wells in search of water. The report says: “Water shortages impose serious public health risks, including outbreaks of water-borne and water-related diseases such as diarrhoea, hepatitis, and skin diseases which might eventually further challenge the weakened health system in NES by more than a decade of crisis. “

Alouk Water Station is situated in Turkey controlled territory and, in 2019, a deal between Turkey and AANES was reached where NES would have access to water produced by the station in exchange for providing local populations with electricity.

However, AANES has accused Turkish armed forces of interfering with the water station’s operations repeatedly leaving one million Syrians with no access to clean water. Since May, according to the WHO, the NES has seen a rise in acute diarrhoea cases with 99.079 reported cases in 2022 so far, a figure which is already higher than the 2021 total. The report attributes this rise to acute water shortages.