With the conflict arising in Syria, residents were suffering a severe humanitarian crisis. With water shut down on an entire city, the citizens of Aleppo arranged an initiative in 2014 to create a network that provides clean water to the city.
Problems and Purpose:
In 2011, when the conflict in Syrian began, armed forces from multiple parties started taking over different areas of the country. Conflict was very severe and intense, with many circumstances affecting the citizens’ wellbeing. In this case, the forces controlling the water-pumping station that provided clean water to the entire city of Aleppo did not keep it running. Therefore, millions of people were deprived of clean water to drink for a long period of time in 2014. The purpose of the initiative was to reach a point of reconciliation between the conflicting parties or to explore an alternative way to provide clean water to the deprived areas of the city.
Background History and Context:
With many fighting forces in the Syrian war which started 2011, the civilians were often under the control of the armed forces in their area, whichever party they belonged to. Those forces often used the resources in the area they dominated as mean to control their opponents. Controlling the water pumping stations by armed forces who either refused, or did not have the knowledge necessary, to run them properly was one of many difficulties that faced the civilians because of the conflict. Roads were blocked to cut off military supplies, and basic resources were therefore cut off as well. Lives of citizen were endangered because of the continuous random bombing and sieges that were sometimes imposed on certain locations. Lots of initiatives were taken throughout the 9 years of war as an attempt to relieve some of the stress load off civilians and provide them with basic necessities to survive.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities:
The following organizations supported the participatory process described in this case study.
- Local committees of all affected towns and small cities who helped in the administration process and the allocation and distribution of the resources;
- Al-Ihsan Organization (a local nonprofit organization based in Aleppo), provided technical capacities and equipment to start the work; and
- The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, helped in the rehabilitation of existing facilities and served as a neutral entity between the conflicting sides.
Participant Recruitment and Selection:
When the process started spreading to a wide scope the local organizations intervened to help organize the process and allocate available resources and assets.
Methods and Tools Used:
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation:
The process consisted of multiple phases of planning and implementation.
The people in the communities that had not had an alternative source of running water complained to their local governors and through social media to find a solution . The response happened when local committees from each area or neighborhood started holding meetings and coming up with potential plans to come up with solutions.
The administrative-committee members started suggesting names of people who had resources that could be used in the process (an existing water well or a power generator or any other equipment or property that can be of use) and asking for their participation and what needed to happen to encourage them to do it. But actual participation in the process was voluntary.
As the plan developed, more assets, resources and professional experience were needed for the plan to take place. The public reached out to local organizations in order for them to intervene and regulate the work after allocation of all available resources until the plan was successfully implemented.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects:
An issue was that the new location of water wells did not reach all the population that could benefit from it even though they printed and handed out thousands of printed maps.