Syria is experiencing a severe drought that is jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of families. After a second straight year of poor rainfall, this country in the heart of the fertile crescent is, in places, becoming barren.
The supply of potable water is also dwindling, particularly in regions that rely on well water.
In response, the UN has issued a drought appeal for about $53 million to address the urgency of the situation.
New water plant in Salamieh
In Salamieh, in the central governorate of Hama, residents once depended on water from the Al Assi River processed through the 1960s-era Al Qantara Hydrostation. They now depend on local wells. As a result of the drought and climate change, well water is now only available at depths of 600 meters. Water from these wells, however, contains contaminants that make it unsafe for drinking.
To address the problem, Al Qantara Hydrostation has been refurbished with a reverse osmosis unit. The project is the result of a collaboration between the Ministry of Housing, the Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation, and the Hama Governorate–with additional funding from UNICEF, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Embassy of Denmark.
Benefits for all
Joining the ambassador at the launch, and for a tour of the plant, was the Syrian Minister of Housing, Omar Ghalawanji; the Governor of Hama, Abdul Razak Al Qutaini; the Head of the Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation of Syria, Mohammad Al Shahoud; and UNICEF Representative in Syria Sherazade Boualia.
After the ceremony the delegation visited the local Ismail Salibi School, where there had been no water supply at all until the plant became operational.
“Now that the plant is almost fully working, water is available for the drinking and also for the cleaning and use in the toilets, which basically reduces the stress that the students and the teachers had when there was a lack of water,” said Ms. Boualia.
Approximately 120,000 residents will benefit from the new plant.
Watch a UN video on the opening of the plant.
Source: UNICEF, 02 Dec 2009