September 12 2014

Syria: Water shortage emergency follows civil war

Fewer mortar shells and barrel bombs are falling on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, but the city’s residents now face a different kind of threat: water shortage. Supplies of potable water have

12 September 2014 - According to a source at the Aleppo Water Department, more than two million people have been affected by the water shortage after three out of four of the city's pumping stations were shut down. Water has stopped flowing not only into government-held areas, but into practically every corner of Syria’s largest city.

A humanitarian and health disaster

The misery is spreading, as days are passing. In recent pictures from around the city, children can be seen carrying jerry cans and various containers. But the water they find is often unsuitable for drinking, and increases the risk of infections and epidemics.


“The water shortage situation signals a humanitarian and health disaster," a source in the Syrian Red Crescent said.

Daily there are physical struggles for a single bucket of water, with desperate inhabitants pushing and shoving each other for access. Queues of women and children are now a fixture in front of mosque fountains, churches and government wells. They fill up small containers such as cooking pots, teapots and plastic bottles, as well as small barrels.

The water shortage has turned a vital resource into a hot trading item in a city where the price of 20 cubic meters of water has risen to 20,000 SP or about 130 US$. Some people have desperately tried to dig wells themselves.

SOS Children’s Villages Response

SOS Children’s Villages Syria had two old wells in Aleppo, in buildings that served as youth houses before the civil war erupted.
In response to the water shortage, the SOS Children’s Villages team in Aleppo redug these wells and revived them to begin distributing water to people in need. The water was tested by a lab to ensure that it was potable.
The areas where the wells are located host some 5,000 families of which 2,500 are displaced. More than 75% of the people living there are children. These people can barely make ends meet, let alone pay inflated prices for water.

To help more people in affected areas SOS Children’s Villages Syria has engaged a driver with a pick-up truck to ensure that sick and elderly people who are unable to carry water containers can have safe drinking water delivered.

The SOS Children's Villages Syria team in Aleppo are currently distributing 18,000-20,000 litres of potable water daily to people in need.

Click here for more information about how SOS Children's Villages is helping in Syria.