In a crisis, the demand for clean water is higher than the supply. People need water for hydration, sanitation and hygiene. Dutch Surge Support (DSS) water offers emergency aid by sending water management experts to conflict areas. Deployed by DSS water, Daouda Doumbia supports humanitarian organisations on-site in Northeast Syria. He tells us about his work.
After 10 years of civil war, Syria is suffering a worldwide underexposed humanitarian crisis. The infrastructural damage and climate factors combined have left 42% of the Syrian people with unsafe water resources. This number does not include refugee camps such as Al Hol, where more than 60,000 people are living in awful conditions.
Declining water supply
The Euphrates River is one of the main water supplies in Syria, and water levels are lower than ever before. Due to unpredictable, light rain and higher temperatures in the summer, water reservoirs are almost drained. The drought is affecting Syria’s agriculture and water supply. Daouda explains, “Half of the sewage systems do not function. This causes public health risks and a rise in inequality and poverty. Also, critical prevention and control measures for COVID-19 are limited. This puts a strain on the public health system that has already been debilitated by years of crisis.”
The expert at work
Daouda works with many partners to provide basic Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities to people in humanitarian crises. Daouda says, “Enough access to affordable, safe water, adequate sanitation, solid waste management and hygiene supplies are a challenge for refugees worldwide. I want to help by contributing to emergency aid coordination for WASH facilities in several locations.
In Syria, I represent the WASH sector during Area Country Humanitarian Team meetings. Also, I coordinate water trucking operations to supply thousands of people in Al Hassakeh city in Northeast Syria. As we are expecting gaps in water coverage, we are looking for ways to find solutions with our partners.”
The added value of humanitarian experience
This summer, Daouda started his Syrian assignment after projects in Burkina Faso, Haiti and different parts of Africa. He has 18 years of experience as an engineer in hydrogeology and water resources management. He needs this humanitarian experience to navigate tasks as an expert, he says. “I understand the general humanitarian context. But, it differs completely from one region to another. Working and knowing the project cycle management helps me coordinate different projects. Also, my experience has been extremely helpful when dealing with different local authorities.”
Complex working environment
As a result of this crisis, most humanitarian actors have to deal with 2 or 3 local authorities. This number depends on the areas of intervention. Daouda says, “I accommodate the interests of everyone involved. But my priority is to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable people in armed conflict environments.”
Improving emergency aid together
Through DSS water, the Netherlands offers emergency aid to those in humanitarian crises. DSS water is a surge support mechanism that uses the water expertise network from the Netherlands and beyond. Experts who signed up into our database can respond to requests for support we receive from the humanitarian sector, like UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO and IOM. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency carries out the DSS water programme on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and the Netherlands Red Cross support the programme.
Sign up as a DSS water expert
Do you have expertise related to water challenges? Are you interested in contributing to humanitarian challenges? DSS water is always looking for new experts. Visit the DSS water website and sign up!