Fuelled by the sun: sustainable water

The 11-year crisis inflicted serious damage on the water systems in Syria. Many people have limited access to water and often use unsafe water.  

The shortage of electricity further restricts access to water because electricity is required to operate the water network. Some areas of Syria have only one hour of low voltage electricity, making it impossible for the water system to function. Households will often have water once every four or five days.  

Fuel can be used for generators to provide electrical power. However, fuel in Syria is scarce and, when available, expensive.   

In Rabiah, located in rural Hamah in Northern Syria, families must wait for four days for water. Often, they get water from unsafe and expensive water trucks.  

Abu Rafif lived in Rabiah his whole life. “It has always been a struggle for us to access water. We are connected to the main water network, but since there is no electricity, and the borehole in our area is not functional, we have no other option but to rely on water trucking.” Abu Rafif told us. 

Abu Ali is the contractor that worked for Medair to implement this project. Abu Ali is 70 years old, and he was especially excited to work on this project with Medair. 

“This is my first project working with Medair. I could not be any happier. People from the village are helping with the land so this project gets done as quickly as possible. People here are thirsty; they are in a desperate need for water.” Abu Ali told our team. 

Medair team standing in front of the solar panels after installation at Rabiah water project in Rural Hamah.

We talked to Engineer Yasar who had worked as a WASH Advisor with Medair since 2015. Engineer Yasar explained the difference between using solar power and fuel generators in water projects. 

“Using solar system for water pumping costs the highest. The solar panels and the necessary equipment to power them takes a good amount of space to install and is more expensive than installing a generator that can power the water station as long as there is fuel. However, using solar panels is sustainable and does not cost money in the long run, because these panels can function up to 25 years, and don’t require maintenance or fuel to power. This means a solar system is cost-free once it’s installed, and it requires minimum manpower. Unlike the generators that will require maintenance, fuel, and manpower daily.” Yasar told us. 

Mohammad is from Rabiah. He is volunteering to work in the project site so the project is done faster and people can have access to water in his neighbourhood

“Before starting the project, we tested the land, and confirmed the installation will not take place on an agricultural land.” Yasar told us about the technicalities of choosing a land to install the solar panels. 

“The land was given by the municipality to the Syrian Ministry of Water Resources so Medair can install the solar panels. On top of that, a lot of people volunteered to help in the project site however they can, to get this project done. Everyone participated in the success of this project.” Said Abu Rafif 

Since 2015, Medair has been implementing water projects in Syria in coordination with the Syrian Ministry of Water Resources and other local parties. Recently, Medair in Syria has been moving towards more sustainable and environment friendly solutions to make the projects as efficient as possible.  

In Syria, Medair’s work is made possible by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, UNOCHA, Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Solidarity, SlovakAid and generous private donors like you. 

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.