HotSpots H2O, April 18: Water and Sanitation Crises Jeopardize Health of Damascus Citizens

The Global Rundown

Water shortages and sewage system failures are compromising the health of millions in Damascus, Syria. Chief Ministers of the Indian states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh spar over the Mahanadi River’s usage rights. In northern Kenya, tension builds between native pastoralists and South Sudanese refugees. The construction of valley dams in Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda may end years of human-wildlife conflict. UNHCR warns of increasing starvation risk as drought unfolds in Nigeria, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa.

“In Syria, water has been used as a weapon of war by all parties to the conflict. Water sources have been deliberately shut off, water infrastructure has been attacked and damaged, and water workers were denied access to maintain, repair, and operate water networks.” –Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative in Syria, in reference to the deteriorating water and sanitation conditions throughout war-torn Syria. The situation in Damascus has been especially dire. Earlier this year, 5.5 million citizens endured several weeks without clean water. Sewage system failures in the city are further increasing the risk of waterborne diseases. Relief Web

By The Numbers

180,000  Number of refugees currently residing in northern Kenya’s Kakuma camp. In recent months, deepening conflict in South Sudan has further increased the number of refugees streaming into Kakuma. This has caused mounting tension with local pastoralists, who feel that the refugees are stealing land, polluting water, and intensifying resource shortages. Relief Web

10  Number of valley dams being built in Uganda’s Lake Mburo National Park. In the past, the Uganda Wildlife Authority has failed to stop wildlife from eating crops, prompting tension and arrests as farmers retaliated by poisoning the animals. Ideally, wildlife will now find water and pasture around the valley dams. New Vision

Science, Studies, And Reports

The risk of mass deaths from starvation in Nigeria, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa is growing, according to a statement by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards. Drought and conflict are causing widespread crop failures, water shortages, and displacement throughout the region. UNHCR 

On The Radar

Over the weekend, Raman Singh, Chief Minister of the Indian State of Chhattisgarh, declared he was open to talks about the Mahanadi River’s usage rights—but Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, claims that Singh has been uncooperative throughout the debate. The Indian Supreme Court may soon give an official ruling on the river-sharing dispute. The New Indian Express

In context: Learn more about the Mahanadi River here.