Throughout the recent conflicts in Iraq and Syria, water has been used as armament by competing powers as they scramble to control a quickly diminishing resource.
When ISIS seized the Fallujah Barrage, a dam on the Euphrates River, in 2014, they used it as leverage by depriving downstream cities of water. Later, they released water from the dam in an attempt to flood approaching Iraqi forces. Water has become a powerful tool of war.Seeking professional guidance for funding stormwater systems? Read this FREE Special Report, Stormwater Solutions Funding: Successfully Establishing a Stormwater Management Utility. Download it now!
According to Sanjay Wijesekera, chief of water, sanitation, and hygiene, and associate director of programs at UNICEF, Syria experienced 30 intentional water cuts in 2016—in Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Raqqa, and Dara. In many cases, he explains, pumps were destroyed and water sources deliberately contaminated.
“As a result of violence, the flow of water from the Wadi Barada and Fijeh Springs in Damascus, which supply 70% of water to the city was interrupted,” wrote Wijesekera. “As a result, an estimated 5.5 million Syrians in Damascus and rural Damascus . . . are living without access to running water.”
People, however, aren’t the only victims of the war, explains Nabil Musa. The environment has suffered devastating impacts too. Musa has been traveling by paddleboard throughout the Kurdistan region of Iraq for the past seven years to promote the protection of rivers, streams, and waterways. He has seen first-hand, the effects of decades of war, pollution, development, and damming on the bodies of water in his homeland.
“That river used to be swimmable, drinkable, fishable,” he says in a powerful film by Emily Kinskey. “I’m a witness of that. No longer can you do any of those. If a drop of that water goes into your kid’s mouth, no way they can survive.”
His journey to ensure clean water for future generations is inspiring. We’re pleased to share the film with you here.