Millions in Damascus suffer from water shortage as conflict continues

Millions in Damascus suffer from water shortage as conflict continues
People queue as they fill containers with water in the government controlled al-Rabwah area, a suburb of Damascus, Syria January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
1 week ago

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Damascus – Millions of Syrians in Damascus and the surrounding areas are suffering from an acute water shortage as ongoing military operations between the Syrian government forces and insurgents in Wadi Barada have cut off the capital's water supply.

Located northwest of Damascus, Wadi Barada in the upper Barada River valley is the main water-supply source for the capital. The continuous fighting between the Syrian army and rebel groups has severely damaged water supply facilities over the past half month.

Damascus residents have been braving cold weather to fetch water at temporary supply points across the city. They usually wait for about three hours, enduring the harsh winter winds.

"The situation is too bad. We have been lacking water for more than 20 days. The households living on the lower floors have some tap water. But those living on the higher floors have nothing. You see we use kettles and buckets to fetch water. The water shortage has brought us new stress. It's too hard for us," said Adnan, a resident in Damascus.

The water shortage has caused great inconvenience, with some residents concerned about their personal hygiene amid the ongoing crisis. The United Nations have warned about the risks of the spread of infectious diseases due to lack of water resources.

"We can neither take a bath nor get cleaned up. Now drinking water is our biggest headache. We take a bath every ten days, but the quality of the bath water was rather poor. My daughter is suffering from spots on her skin," said Wafaa, another Damascus resident.

Local residents have been snapping up bottled drinking water despite the price rising by 50 percent.

The water supply company in Damascus has started emergency measures to address the issue, including collecting water from wells.

"All of our water treatment plants have been shut down. We are mainly depending on water wells in Damascus. We've connected the drinking water pipes with the emergency system. We've changed the water supply circulation by exploring water sources outside the city," said Muhmmad Shayyah, manager of the Figeh Water Company in Damascus.

However, using underground water and drawing on resources from other areas will not be enough to alleviate the water shortage in Damascus for now.

(Reuters)