In Syria, delivering water - and hope - in a 'time of great need'

Seven years after the Syria crisis began, families are struggling to access necessities, like water, food, and medicine. Through your support, we're delivering clean water to Hani and his family, and thousands more who fled the violence in East Ghouta.

Last week marked seven years of brutal conflict in Syria. More than 12 million Syrians have fled their homes and are living as refugees in their own or neighboring countries—the majority in dire poverty.

Hani,* 16, and his family are among them. Escalating violence forced them from East Ghouta, Syria, in 2013 to a community south of Damascus called Herjalleh. With no income, they couldn’t afford to rent an apartment. They had no choice but to set up a tent in this community of 30,000—nearly half of whom come from elsewhere in Syria.

Five years later, they are still living in a tent, but Hani is grateful for what shelter he has. ‘’Somehow, we got used to this tent,” he says. “At least there are no sounds of bombardment to keep me and my brothers awake all night.”

A member of the Oxfam team checks the water quality of a fountain, that some families in Herjalleh walk to, in order to fetch water. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

A member of the Oxfam team checks the water quality of a fountain, that some families in Herjalleh walk to, in order to fetch water. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

Water is costly

The rapid increase in Herjalleh’s population has strained local resources, including its water network. The only way for families like Hani’s to get enough clean water consistently is to pay for it, but the cost is prohibitive—the equivalent of $12 a month, when the average income across rural Damascus is $100 a month.

So they must use public water fountains, and the nearest one is a 20-minute walk for Hani and his younger brothers along a busy highway. Hani’s mother is afraid her children will be hit by a car on one of their daily trips.

An Oxfam volunteer monitors the trucked water before it is pumped to the main water reservoir in Herjalleh, outside of Damascus, Syria. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

An Oxfam volunteer monitors the trucked water before it is pumped to the main water reservoir in Herjalleh, outside of Damascus, Syria. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

Oxfam is there

Recognizing that Herjalleh’s water supply couldn’t meet the needs of the growing population, Oxfam began trucking water to shelters in the community.

Between December 2017 and February 2018, we provided 66,043 gallons of clean, safe drinking water to over 2,000 families. This is part of our long-term strategy to provide aid for those in Syria as well as refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

Now Hani and his siblings are no longer putting themselves at risk when they collect water.

“My little children used to walk every day, back and forth to fetch water, but now we have been filling water directly from Oxfam water trucks,” says Hani’s mother. “We hope the water shortage here is solved soon—this water came at a time of great need."

Wael* and Husam* return from their daily journey to  collect drinking water for their family from a nearby water  fountain, Herjalleh, Rural Damascus. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

Wael* and Husam* return from their daily journey to collect drinking water for their family from a nearby water fountain, Herjalleh, Rural Damascus. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

Over the past year, through the support of people like you, we have helped more than 2 million people in Syria and in host communities. That includes providing safe drinking water, sanitation, and vital food aid, as well as helping refugees make a living.

*Names changed to protect identities.

This entry posted by Shaheen Chughtai (@ShaheenX), Head of Campaigns, Policy & Communications, Oxfam Syria Crisis Response, on 27 March 2018.

Top photo: Hani*, 16, and his siblings outside their family’s tent in a community for displaced people in Herjalleh, Syria. Credit: Dania Kareh/Oxfam

What you can do now

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