When Daesh (ISIS) occupation ended in western Deir ez-Zor governorate of northeast Syria in February 2017, communities faced the challenge of rebuilding.
Years of conflict destroyed critical services, including access to electricity and water, which limited opportunities to earn a living. After the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with the support of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, worked with local governance to restore the region’s power supply, the local Agriculture Committee saw the potential to spur further economic growth.
Daesh sabotaged four wells used by livestock farmers in the western region of Deir ez-Zor. Restoring those wells would not only help provide water to the nearly 50,000 sheep, goats, and cows raised in the area, but would also help bolster the earning potential of the region’s 1,200 breeders and related farmers, producers, and markets. With the wells out of service, livestock farmers had no choice but to travel to other, sometimes unreliable, water sources, wasting them precious time and money..
“The General Administration of Agriculture and the Department of Animal Welfare were aware of the problem but did not have the material capacity to rehabilitate these wells,” said Dr. Anas*, a member of the local Agriculture Committee.
USAID worked in collaboration with local officials to restore the four wells and build an animal rehydration center, all powered by the newly rebuilt electrical grid. The new center provides a reliable source of water and can serve 80-100 animals at a time. With the center open all day, every day, 12 new jobs were also created for in the community as guards and well operators.
“The project has had a positive effect. We no longer sell sheep to buy water,” said a livestock breeder. “The situation is now excellent. The project saved us time, distance, material, and money.”
Improved water access has reduced the cost of watering flocks from $50 to $2 per week by reducing the amount farmers have to spend on water trucking. This has enabled farmers to increase dairy production. Higher production has a ripple effect — improving opportunities for those who buy milk or use milk to make and sell other products, such as cheese.
Farmers have resumed livestock grazing patterns and are improving their economic situation. Many are reinvesting savings into their businesses, purchasing more tools or livestock, while also having the money to support their families.
“Water is available now, easing our burden,” said a local sheep breeder.
With a sense of normalcy and stability returning to the region’s dairy industry, the Agriculture Committee sees further opportunity. Plans are currently being developed to add a treatment unit to the hydration center to expand access to drinkable water for the community. “This project has had a lead role in restoring life to these wells, said Dr. Mustafa*, another member of the Agriculture Committee.