Following years of neglect under the Assad regime and the struggle against Daesh, North-East Syria continues to be plagued by water scarcity. Overconsumption from the Turkish side of the border has reduced supplies to the area. Since agriculture is the main source of income for the local population, they rely heavily on water. In addition, rivers across North East Syria, tributaries from the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, have suffered from waste pollution and are in a bad shape.
In this context, activists from ‘We Love Qamishlo’ gathered for a session on water security on 17 July 2019. Qamishlo is a city fed by the Jaghjagh River, which originates in Turkey and flows into the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates. This workshop was an opportunity for activists across the city to learn more about the current water crisis in the city and the region. The session was lead by Helen Haj Ahmed, one of the coordinators of We Love Qamishlo initiative.
The workshop touched upon some of the most important aspects of water security, namely Ilisu Dam and water consumption in North-East Syria. Ilisu Dam was constructed by Turkey in recent years and its reservoir is currently being filled. The Dam is located on the Tigris River, which flows partially through Syria (the country has a share of 7% in the Tigris basin). Ilisu Dam is set to decrease the water flows to Syria and mostly Iraq, thus exacerbating water scarcity in the region. Ahmed argued Syria will have to find new approaches to conserve water and rationalize its use. Domestic and agricultural consumption levels will have to decrease. Irrigation methods will have to be modernized.
This workshop was instrumental in informing Qamishlo activists on the current challenges for water security in North East Syria, from a regional perspective, especially as it affects the local Tigris-Euphrates waterway.