Water Restores Life and Livelihoods in Northeast Syria

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Livestock breeders can now pump water at the wells to transport to their farms.
Photo credit: USAID Syria Essential Services II program

Four livestock drinking wells restored by USAID are boosting the earning potential of breeders.

When ISIS occupation ended in western Deir ez-Zor governorate of northeast Syria in February 2017, communities faced the challenge of rebuilding. Years of conflict destroyed critical services, including access to electricity and water, which limited opportunities to earn a living. After USAID worked with local governance to restore the region’s power supply, the local Agriculture Committee saw the potential to spur further economic growth.

ISIS sabotaged four wells used by livestock farmers in the western region of Deir ez-Zor. Restoring those wells would not only help provide water to the nearly 50,000 sheep, goats, and cows raised in the area, but would also help bolster the earning potential of the region’s 1,200 breeders and related farmers, producers, and markets. With the wells out of service, livestock farmers were forced to waste significant time and money traveling to other water sources, which were not always reliable.

“The General Administration of Agriculture and the Department of Animal Welfare were aware of the problem but did not have the material capacity to rehabilitate these wells,” said Dr. Anas*, a member of the local Agriculture Committee.

USAID worked in collaboration with local officials to restore the four wells and build an animal rehydration center, all powered by the newly rebuilt electrical grid - also supported by USAID. The new center provides a reliable source of water and can serve 80-100 animals at a time. With the center open all day, every day, 12 new jobs were also created for community members to be hired as guards and well operators.

“The project has had a positive effect. We no longer sell sheep to buy water,” said a livestock breeder. “The situation is now excellent. The project saved us time, distance, material, and money.”

Improved water access has reduced the cost of watering flocks from $50 to $2 per week by reducing the amount farmers have to spend on water trucking. This has enabled farmers to increase dairy production. Higher production has a ripple effect -- improving opportunities for those who buy milk or use milk to make and sell other products, such as cheese.

 Sheep drinking from one of the rehabilitated water wells in Deir ez-Zor.
Sheep drinking from one of the rehabilitated water wells in Deir ez-Zor.
Photo credit: USAID Syria Essential Services II program

Farmers have resumed livestock grazing patterns and are improving their economic situation. Many are reinvesting savings into their businesses, purchasing more tools or livestock, while also having the money to support their families.

“Water is available now, easing our burden,” said a local sheep breeder.

With a sense of normalcy and stability returning to the region’s dairy industry, the Agriculture Committee sees further opportunity. Plans are currently being developed to add a treatment unit to the hydration center to expand access to drinkable water for the community. “This project has had a lead role in restoring life to these wells, said Dr. Mustafa*, another member of the Agriculture Committee.