The Raqqa Civilian Council has continued its efforts to restore Raqqa's water supply. The reinstatement of irrigation canals to the the city's surrounding countryside has revitalised agricultural land.
Operations by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to remove ISIS militants from their de-facto capital of the so-called caliphate came to a conclusion in October 2017. Since then, the Raqqa Civilian Council established by the SDF has taken responsibility for all internal security and reconstruction efforts.
Restoring the clean water supply for Raqqa City and its surrounding countryside has been one priority for the Council. The three year ISIS occupation and the subsequent battle to remove militants from the city caused extensive damage to the water supply infrastructure, leading to leaking pipelines and disabled pumping stations. This forced many of Raqqa’s residents to drink contaminated water, a majority of which was imported in repurposed diesel tankers.
Raqqa Civilian Council sent teams of technicians to repair the water supply infrastructure; a task that was completed in just one month. Following the efforts to restore drinking water, the Council’s attention turned to restoring the irrigation station that supplies much of Raqqa’s agricultural land.
After months of work, the Council, local engineers and farmers have successfully reinstated and reopened the Adnanieh irrigation station, providing water for 10,000 hectares of agricultural land. Adnanieh station, together with a pumping station in Jarwa, provide 40% of Raqqa Governorates agricultural water supply. “The efforts of the Council and locals returned the station to its basic state,” said one of the engineers as he explained how ISIS looted the entire contents of the pumping station. The militant group completely destroyed the station’s control room and pumps during their retreat as part of their scorched-earth tactics.
Reinstating a reliable water supply for Raqqa is not only essential for meeting residents basic needs, it is also crucial for maintaining future peace locally and nationally across Syria. The decade-long drought that preceded the Syrian civil war was judged by scientists to be the worst in 900 years. A diminishing water supply in Syria’s countryside forced many people to move into urban areas, stretching resources and employment opportunities further. Consequently, Syria’s cities were transformed into a tinder box waiting for a spark.