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K4D Helpdesk Report: Water infrastructure in fragile- and conflict-affected states

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1. Summary

The key weaknesses identified in water infrastructure systems in urban and peri-urban areas in FCAS are:

• Internal displacement increases demand for water in urban areas as well as increasing wastewater discharge. Sewage systems are poor.

• Alternative service providers which are unregulated, more expensive and of lower quality.

• Naturally where the state is not functioning, coordination of water services and funding is lacking. This includes unclarity of roles and decision-making powers.

• The humanitarian system which supports FCAS can be uncoordinated and changeable.

• There may be physical damage to infrastructure caused by violence.

• Emigration of qualified water engineers.

• In some urban areas in Syria conflict has affected electricity supply which in turn affects water supply.

• Conflict damages financial sustainability of utilities.

• Climate change is an underlying factor putting greater pressure on water systems.

• More knowledge is required on water quality and processes.

Some literature suggests that urban needs are under-recognised as traditionally water projects have focussed on agricultural needs in rural areas and population growth in urban areas needs to be given more consideration (Steduto et al 2018). Problems specific to FCAS highlighted here may not detail underlying water shortage problems which are common in arid countries.

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