Sahnaya is a city located southwest of Damascus, Syria, in the rural area outside the capital. Before the war, about 100,000 people lived in the city, but in 2011 this number almost tripled, due to the large inflow of displaced persons arriving from nearby areas. Today, more than 365,000 people live in Sahnaya. The local infrastructure is no longer enough to accommodate the needs of the growing population: the health system is inadequate, there are not enough decent accommodations, and there is a lack of water wells.
“Most of the displaced are elderly people, women and children, because the men have either died, are still at the front, or they fled the country to avoid having to join the Army” explains Edoardo Tagliani, Director of AVSI’s programs in the Middle East.
For those who stayed in Damascus the most important resource is water yet, it is not available to everyone. To address this need, AVSI launched in June a project funded by the Italian Cooperation that includes the installation of tanks and pumps in local apartments, and a series of activities to raise awareness on the importance of not wasting water.
“Many families, who were forced to abandon their homes, have found shelter in buildings under construction. Those unfinished building are now housing hundreds of thousands of people.”
Since these apartments have no bathrooms or kitchens, AVSI’s engineers are already working on installing pipes and the necessary infrastructure to guarantee essential services to the current residents. In a situation that is so unstable, it also becomes essential to provide training on good cleaning and sanitation practices.
“Families in Sahnaya have many needs,” says Tagliani. “But one of the priorities is certainly the access to toilets, kitchens, and potable water.”