Posted tagged ‘water scarcity’

Being Green, Syrian style: Water

December 24, 2010

If you mention local environmentalism to a Syrian, you get pretty much a reaction of helplessness, and they can’t be blamed. Green campaigns as seen on the internet and foreign media don’t resonate with anyone (we don’t have the infrastructure or similar problems), and knowledge of local environmental needs is virtually non-existent.

This post is exactly for that, with data specific to Syria, I’m going to try my best to raise awareness of the most pressing issues, and how in many simple lifestyle changes, you the citizen can help local nature in more ways than you know of. Let’s start with..


The most vital resource in the region, and obviously the most scarce. Water is predicted to surpass oil as the cause for world conflicts in the 21st century, and guess which highly volatile countries are squandering their last remaining sources.

Now imagine the Arab leaders sharing this cup together


The facts:

Syria has enough renewable water to provide 800 cubic meters for each person annually (A country is considered water scarce once it goes under 1000 cubic meters, which we did five years ago). Of course that is not only water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, showering and such, but also water to irrigate your carbs and veggies. Actually, that’s where 90% of our water quota goes, with 2% to industrialization and 8% to personal use. Right now, Syria uses 25% more than what renewable water can provide, which means ground level water is being depleted at an alarming rate, a blunder that will cost lives in the upcoming decades.

How you can help:

First start with personal use. 8% of 800 is 64 cubic metres annually, and you should try to stay under that. Water bills are bi-monthly, so your bill must be at most 10 cubic meters for each household family member. Please go check this, and tell me the results. Our family average is fifteen per person now, and going under ten is going to be hard. But remember, every time you go over ten, you’re using up from a tanker that won’t be refilled. You now are aware, act accordingly.

To be honest, I don’t think going significantly under 10 per person is possible (the US average is 20), but as you realize, even if you go insane and cut it to 5, then you only cut your water use from 100+% to 96%. Therefore we must take a look at the number one place our water is used and wasted, agriculture.

Syria has a policy of food self sufficiency, which means that if we happen to be under siege some day, the country has to have the capability of producing enough food for the people (Ironically, at the last drought, we lost the capability to do even that, and we’re importing wheat for the first time). The way it’s being done is that we subsidize most of the farm requirements: seeds, diesel for pumps, fertilizers, and water. Water until a while ago was subsidized so hard it was virtually free, and that resulted in many bad habits to keep on, like flooding irrigation, and the trend of growing tropical fruit locally.

That place in the middle of the red looks perfect for growing avocados!

The government has started a campaign for reduced water irrigation systems which optimally can reduce a crop’s water need in half (making your 90% go down to 50). There are things we can do too. First, boycott all locally produced water intensive crops, like rice and tropical fruits. You can buy Somalian bananas instead of Syrian ones, we just have to accept that some crops aren’t meant to be grown in a desert! Then if you have the option to choose the farm, choose to buy from ones with the best water reduced irrigation methods, preferably drip irrigation.

More of the being green series will be up soon 🙂

Further reading: