The biggest challenge for local administrations
Summary of Water Situation in the Region
Most of the residential areas in the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo were fed by water through water pumping stations which were powered by the public electricity network. Except for Al Bab, Bzaa and Qabasin that were fed by water from Ain Al Baida station (near Tadif). After decline of the services sector in general as a result of the hostilities and the general electricity cut from the region and water pumping stations and stop of water pumping from Ain Al Baida station to Al Bab, Bzaa and Qabasin, the local administrations (local councils) have became in front of a big challenge; they became in need of huge resources and funds to substantially re-pump water to cities and towns in the region.
During the war, the pumping stations in the region have been bombed, vandalized and stolen – some of them became out of work as they completely destroyed and some others were partially destroyed. This has forced the local population to rely on water transported through tankers from unknown sources at high prices. After the liberation of the region from ISIS, life began to return to normal gradually
and provision of drinking water to the population was one of the most important challenges facing local administrations. The local councils and the organizations working in the region supported this sector by rehabilitating, equipping and operating the stations (including provision of operational expenses
Previously; The following cities (Akhtarin, Sawran and Marea) and villages affiliated to them were fed by drinking water through pumping stations equipped with required wells, submersible pumps, electric panels and standby electricity generator sets. These pumping stations were relying on general electricity network before cutting it from the region. These regions were/are fed from the pumping
stations through water networks that cover most of the areas. With the necessary staff and resources to operate these stations, they were sufficient to meet the needs of the region from the water.
In Jarablus, the pumping station located near the Euphrates River at a distance of approximately 70 meters is the main (previous and current) source of drinking water in the city. In al-Ra’i City there is one water pumping station alongside to 5 water pumping stations in its countryside.
The Situation in Bzaa, Qabasin and al-Bab was/is a bit different/harder than the other regions, the groundwater in these regions is insufficient so previously, these regions fed from Ain Al Baida water pumping station. Ain Al Baida station is currently under control of the Syrian Regime Forces so the regime stopped pumping water from it to Al-Bab, Bzaa and Qabasin which are under control of the
Syrian Opposition. Previously the water was pumped from Ain Al Baida station to a water reservoir on ‘’Jabal Aqeel’’ Mountain and from it to the cities of al-Bab, Bzaa and Qabasin. It is as well worth mentioning that the main water pumping line between Jabal Aqeel and Ain Al Baida is damaged due to the hostilities and that the regime forces didn’t allow the teams to enter the frontline to rehabilitate it.
Drinking water is the biggest challenge for local administrations
With the increase of the population due to the return of displaced people to their cities, the arrival of large waves of displaced peoples to the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo and the various eastern governorates, in addition to arrival of the forcibly displaced people of Homs and Ghouta. So, the local administrations are facing a great challenge to secure the most important needs of the population, primarily drinking water. As mentioned above, the region has become mainly dependent on groundwater through pumping stations that pump water through networks to the main sterilization and distribution reservoirs. These pumping stations, networks, and sterilization /distribution reservoirs are managed by the local administrations. The local councils of the region in cooperation with the Stabilization Committee and other NGOs (World Vision, Shafaq, etc.. ) have rehabilitated the pumping stations, networks, and reservoirs to enable the delivery of water to houses of the beneficiaries. The challenge remains in securing the sustainability of the water pumping services in the region, by securing the operational expenses of the diesel electricity generators and other operational expenses such as the wages of the workers and maintenance expenses.
The Stabilization Committee has supported all the water pumping stations in the region, worked to rehabilitate and equip the pumping stations and provided 6-month operational expenses for each one of them – the operational expenses included the cost of diesel, workers’ wages and periodic maintenance costs. The Stabilization Committee has as well worked to activate the fee collection process by the local councils to increase their income, the thing that will help to achieve sustainability of water pumping services. In addition to that, the Stabilization Committee has held many awareness workshops and meetings to increase the awareness of the local populations about the
fee collection and its role in achieving the sustainability of the services and about the importance of reducing water consumption
With damage or loss of the majority of water meters that were used to measure the amount of water consumed by each beneficiary, the local councils imposed a fixed amount of money to be collected from each beneficiary as a fee for the service they get. Except for al-Ra’i, where the stabilization committee has implemented a project for installing 1500 water meters in the town, the local council is collecting the fees of the service according to the consumption rate of each of the beneficiary. The rate of the beneficiaries of each pumping station as well as the per individual consumption rate varies according to the abundance of the water of the pumping center, the number of pumping hours and the network that feeds the houses of the beneficiaries. For example, in Jarablus the rate of the beneficiaries is 100% as the network is feeding all the houses, in Akhtarin the rate of beneficiaries
is approximately 90% and in Marea the rate is approximately 82%.
However, the situation in al-Bab, Qabasin and Bzaa is different, in these regions the water is being secured through water tankers. They are in need of 9000 m3 of water per day.
The role of basic services in strengthening the legitimacy of local authorities
In order for local councils to play their desired role, they need the necessary components of work, first and foremost, the provision of sustainable funding. As much as the local councils have diversified and sustainable financial resources, they can perform their functions and impose themselves to their communities as a central service provider to the local population.
With the local councils relying on external support from other donor organizations and parties, their financial instability is exacerbating and consequently, their legitimacy is not strengthening in the community. In some communities, some residents complained about the local councils and quality of the services they provided. The residents expressed their complaints in different ways, some of them selected formal ways and some other informal ways. Some local councils, for example, has special offices to review the complaints of beneficiaries, while in other regions residents protested to express their complaints. The local councils have made every effort to provide basic services to the local communities,
putting the priority on the water sector, the thing that contributed to calming the population and reduce the phenomenon of informal complaints such as protests and demonstrations. The other thing that helped to reduce the protests is local councils› adoption of some formal complaint mechanisms
Many organizations and donors have supported water sector in the region but due to their consideration their support as humanitarian assistance, lack of interest of some of them in the concept of sustainability of the service and not imposing the fee collection on the local councils as a mechanism for sustainability, the thing that has negatively affected the Local Councils ability to collect fees from the beneficiaries after the end of the grants and thus inability to continue to cover operational expenses.
The water sector has always been a priority, it is one of the most important sectors challenging local councils due to its high costs. The local councils undertook the expenses of water pumping services at high costs to achieve urgent humanitarian results and consequently achieving the satisfaction of the local population but this has led to decrease other services that are less important than water services.
Therefore, the Stabilization Committee has adopted a policy which is; when implementing any project, to implement it in partnership with the local councils and to help the local councils to provide services to the local population, which enhances their legitimacy and promotes stability in the region.
“Supporting the local councils and helping them to provide services increases their legitimacy”
Means of Public Safety
Activation of water pumping centers, maintenance of water networks, restoration of reservoirs and many projects within the water sector have reduced the number of people infected due to contaminated water, as people started to use sterilized water pumped through the networks. Previously people were using water from random / unknown resources that were carrying the possibility of being contaminated. At the beginning of each project held by the Stabilization Committee to support a pumping station, the committee used to conduct analysis on the water of the wells that are feeding the pumping stations to make sure that water is eligible for household usage and drinking. In Addition to the process of adding chlorine and sterilizing the water before pumping it to the network. This mechanism has been adopted by the pumping stations in the region until today.
However, the risk remains in the camps that are widespread in the region, the camps lack drinking water through the networks and are supplied with water through tankers that fill plastic tanks distributed between the tents. The plastic tanks that lack means of safety and sterilization. In a report published on 19.10.2018 regarding the health situation in Zogra camp, it was reported that about 200 people were infected with hepatitis A due to the contaminated drinking water.
The main recommendation made to the medical team by the camp management was to analyze the water sources from where the water being transported to the camp.
The most important works of the Stabilization Committee in the water sector
- Provision of equipment to 39 water pumping stations.
- Provision of 6 -month operational expenses to 39 water pumping stations in addition to activating the fee collection.
- Installing a water pumping line to provide Jarablus Al-Tahtani with water and rehabilitating the water channels on Sajour river (Gannama and Swaidia channels – 7 km long in total). 165 hectares now are benefitting from these channels.
- Providing and installing 1500 water meters in Al-Rai.
- Providing an electricity generator set, installing a water network and providing 6 water tanks to Ka’ibah camp.
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