Locals in Deir ez-Zour province are making houses out of mud and clay instead of cement in the face of difficult economic conditions.
The province of Deir ez-Zour represented a major ISIS stronghold in the south-east of Syria for more than three years. Militants were almost entirely eliminated in the province following an operation by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) west of the Euphrates River and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) east of the river. ISIS currently still hold two pockets of countryside in the province, with one such area straddling the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The SDF established a Civilian Council in the areas of Deir ez-Zour under their control, as they have done in other Syrian cities. Their first priority was to implement a plan to encourage displaced people who fled ISIS rule to return to their homes. As part of the their repatriation plan, reconstruction of all destroyed buildings was essential in restoring the province’s population. Much of the city’s crucial infrastructure, such as clean water and electricity supplies, were devastated by the ISIS occupation and subsequent battle to remove the militants from the city and surrounding areas.
An initiative by local residents in cooperation with the local council have set up a filtering station in the city to restore the water supply to local residents. The filtering station allows for water to be drawn directly from the Euphrates River and be treated to remove all pollutants. The refined river water provides residents with a clean, safe, cheap and reliable water supply.
For the local residents and builders reconstructing Deir ez-Zour’s buildings, the rising price of construction materials have forced them to return to using traditional mud and straw bricks. “Mud is better than cement,” said one of the builders as he highlighted the ease, speed and low cost advantages of using mud bricks. Using mud bricks enables locals to circumvent the high cost of materials which have been affected by Syria’s rising prices and the Syrian Pound’s high inflation rate. The price of a bag of cement is around 2,500 – 2,600 SYP (£3.40 – £3.50).
Using locally made mud bricks for the reconstruction of Deir ez-Zour will further the rehabilitation of the province’s economy; new jobs will be created as well as new apprentices trained in brick making and construction. Local farmers will also continue to benefit from increased hay sales. As a result, Deir ez-Zour’s construction and agricultural economy will continue to grow as rebuilding efforts increase.