"Omar and his family are a typical example of the many suffering people displaced by the war. Perhaps we remove a little of their pain and ease their suffering. - Tahir, a GOAL WASH engineer"
In a sparsely populated village in the south of the Idlib Province, shelling and explosions from the bitter conflict inched closer each day. For one family, it was now becoming too close. Omar, his wife Rima, and their seven children were forced to leave. Their situation deteriorated dramatically and the need to escape was so great that they left everything, bringing only their children’s schoolbags. Like many of Syria’s displaced, their journey from here on would be unknown – for this family, it would last four months. It was the summer of 2015 and they eventually took refuge in a camp in Rabeeta Village, in the northern Idlib province.
For the family, their daily diet was limited to dry bread each day. Even after hunger subsided, accessing safe water was an even bigger challenge, says Omar. “We feared our children would get infectious and contagious diseases. We had no idea if the water was drinkable or polluted, yet our desperate need for it did not give us much time to think. Nor did we have any other choices.”
With frequent outages in the public water network within Idlib province, the family, like thousands of others, relied on water collected from wells and delivered to the camp via trucks. The price often exceeded what most could pay, forcing some families to spend up to 40 per cent of their income. It was the same for much of Idlib Governorate. Trucks are the only source of water for around 45 percent of the population.
In order to reduce this reliance on water supplied by trucks and sold at an exploitative price, GOAL’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes in Idlib centre around repairing damaged water infrastructure and supporting the maintenance of water stations. Using these methods, GOAL is now supporting more than 800,000 people across the Idlib region with access to clean water.
In the camp in Rabeeta Village, GOAL’s programmes now provide clean running water for around 110 displaced families, including Omar’s. To achieve this, 920 metres of piping were installed to connect the camp to water services in the village.
“Providing water for the inhabitants of the camp has been an essential task for us from the beginning, so we have tried to overcome all of the related obstacles, especially after the number of households started to increase,” according to Burhan, who helps oversees the informal IDPs settlements in Rabeeta.
Tahir, the GOAL’s WASH engineer in charge of supervising the Harem Water Unit, said: “Omar and his family are a typical example of the many suffering people displaced by the war. Perhaps we remove a little of their pain and ease their suffering.”
*Some names in this story were changed in order to protect interviewee’s identities.