Clean water and good sanitation bringing wellbeing to neighbourhoods in Aleppo

UNICEF improves access to safe water and sanitation

Antwan Chnkdji & Maher Ghafari
Girl washing her hands
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Antwan Chnkdji
28 July 2022

In Syria, nearly two thirds of water treatment plants, half pumping stations and one third of water towers have been damaged because of the conflict. Nearly half of the people rely on alternative and often unsafe water sources to meet or complement their water needs and at least 70 per cent of the discharged sewage is untreated.

In the Al-Jazmati neighbourhood in Aleppo city, drinking water used to leak from the underground main pipes, causing a low pressure in the pipes. Water flowed only intermittently and often only after midnight. It also did not reach most of the houses.

Girl washing her hands
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Antwan Chnkdji
Fatima, 11, happily washing her hands at her home in Al-Jazmati neighbourhood in Aleppo, Syria, on 28 April 2022.

“My back used to hurt me from fetching water daily,”

Fatima, 11

“We used to sit in the darkness until the tank was full, because the little electricity we had was used to power the water pump,” said Aisha.

Many families were also forced to fetch water from local wells.

“My back used to hurt me from fetching water daily,” explained 11-year-old Fatima. Together with her siblings, she fetched water five times a day. The burden was not only heavy from carrying the heavy buckets but also due to queuing for a long time during the hot summer days.

Girl drinking water
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Antwan Chnkdji
Sahar, 6, drinking water at her home in Al-Jazmati neighbourhood in Aleppo, Syria on 28 April 2022
elder woman with children cleaning floor
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Antwan Chnkdji
Awash and her granddaughters cleaning their house at Al-Jazmati neighbourhood in Aleppo Syria, on 28 April 2022. “We had to reduce the number of showers we took during the week and skip house cleaning when water was cut, but now we can shower and clean the house any time” said Awash.

In November 2021, UNICEF rehabilitated the main water network in the neighbourhood. This improvement, together with the rehabilitation of the sedimentation tanks in the Al-Khafsa water treatment plant, increased the amount of water pumped to the communities and made safe drinking water available for more families.

Woman smiling at kitchen
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Antwan Chnkdji
“We used buckets and it used to take us 10 trips to the end of street to fill the barrel we have at home with water. Now, we just open the tap to get water” said Awash. She is a grandmother, living with her family, in Al-Jazmati neighbourhood in Aleppo, Syria, on 28 April 2022.

The Al-Khafsa water treatment plant, located 90 kilometres east from Aleppo city, provides clean and safe water to nearly three million people in the city as well as many towns and villages in the surrounding areas. The plant was severely damaged during the conflict.

With the contribution from Government of Japan, UNICEF has supported its rehabilitation and helped to rehabilitate three of the six damaged sedimentation tanks. This has increased the plant’s water production by about 15 per cent and provided 140,000 additional households with access to clean water.

“I’m so happy I don’t have to carry a bucket anymore,” said Fatima. The availability of safe water has also encouraged displaced people to return to their houses and resettle.

Poor water quality similarly tends to lead to more waterborne diseases, including diarrhoea, particularly among children.

Boy drinking water from a hose
UNICEF/Syria/2022/Antwan Chnkdji
Aref, 12, drinking water in front of his home in Al-Jazmati neighbourhood, Aleppo Syria, on 28 April 2022.

With the support of Japan, UNICEF has also rehabilitated and replaced sewage networks in Aleppo. The interventions in Kadi Askar and Al-Jazmati in the city as well as in Maskaneh and Deir Hafer in Aleppo eastern rural have helped to provide close to 900,000 people with equitable and sustainable access to sanitation services.

“We can keep children healthy and protect them from waterborne diseases when we improve access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation. This is paramount during conflicts and in communities where access to these services is difficult or compromised, “ said Maher Ghafari, a (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer) at UNICEF’s office in Aleppo.

UNICEF Syria continues to invest in programmes to enhance access to clean water, basic toilets, and good hygiene practices to keeps children thriving and give them a healthier start in life.