Water supply and sanitation in Syria
This article has last been comprehensively updated in November 2010.
|Syria: Water and Sanitation|
|Water coverage (broad definition)||Rural 80% (2006) Urban 94% (2006) |
|Sanitation coverage (broad definition)||Rural 74% (2002) Urban 98% (2002) |
|Continuity of supply|
|Average urban water use (l/c/d)|
|Average monthly urban water and sewer bill|
|Share of household metering||n/a|
|Share of collected wastewater treated||n/a|
|Annual investment in WSS||n/a|
|Share of self-financing by utilities||n/a|
|Share of tax-financing||high|
|Share of external financing||low|
|Decentralization to municipalities|
|National water and sanitation company||14 Water Establishments|
|Water and sanitation regulator||Ministry of Housing and Construction (MHC)|
|Responsibility for policy setting||Ministry of Housing and Construction (MHC)|
|Sector law||Law No. 55|
|Number of urban service providers||14 Water Establishments in 13 Governorates|
|Number of rural service providers||14 Water Establishments in 13 Governorates|
Syria is a semiarid country with scarce water resources. The largest water consuming sector in Syria is agriculture. The domestic water use stand only at about 9% of total water use. A big challenge for Syria is the high population growth with a rapidly increasing demand of urban and industrial water. In 2006 the population of Syria was 19.4 millions with a growth of 2.7%.
Public water supply systems cover about 95% of the households in urban areas and about 80% in rural areas.
Drinking Water Supply
In 2002 96% of all urban households were connected to a sewer system. Nearly half (46%) of rural house connections were connected to a pipe sewerage system in 2002. In 2002 about 30% of the rural households were connected to a pit latrine.
All major cities - with the exception of Aleppo – and all rural distribution networks in the rural areas are supplied with water of good quality from springs and groundwater. Major water treatment facilities exist only for the domestic water supply system for Aleppo, which is provided with water from Lake Assad.
Most of the domestic water in Syria is supplied by groundwater, wells and springs. One exception is Aleppo city, which receives water for domestic use by pipelines from the Assad reservoir. However, the city of Homs is supplied with surface water from the Orontes River through a pipeline from Lake Homs.
In 2002, total wastewater produced in Syria was estimated at 1,364 million m3. Of this total 550 million m3 (40%) was treated in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Salamiyah. All treated wastewater is reused for irrigation. In October 2009, the Ministry of Housing and Construction (Syria) announced a plan to develop Syria’s wastewater infrastructure. The plan involves the construction of 180 new wastewater treatment plants across the country. Two plants are in the foreground: one located in Jaramanah and the other serving the southern city of As Suwayda. The procurement of the two plants has been assigned to Syrian-Qatari Holding Company (SQHC). SQH had planned to seek potential strategic partners through competitive tenders before February 2010. To increase the attractiveness of the project the Syrian Ministry of Finance has pledged to provide a sovereign guarantee for the agreements that will be signed with the partners. The two new plants would allow reusing treated effluent for agricultural irrigation, an established practice in Syria. However, as of December 2010 the projects were delayed after SQH failed to reach a financial agreement with the government. Also, a law on public-private partnerships that would have been the legal basis for the Build-Operate Transfer (BOT) projects was delayed.
The Syrian water sector is fragmented and different institutions have overlapping functions and responsibilities.
The Ministry of Housing and Construction (Syria) (MHC) is responsible for proposing, planning and executing the Government's programme in the field of water supply and sanitation. Through its 14 water and sanitation directorates (Establishments) it is also in charge of providing water supply and sanitation services.
The Ministry of Local Administration (Syria) (MLA) has the task to plan and implement all governmental activities at regional level. MLAE is responsible for the protection of the environment by issuing the required standards and monitoring the quality of water for all uses.
The State Minister for Environment Affairs is responsible for dealing with all main environmental issues.
The Ministry of Irrigation (Syria) is responsible for supplying water for agriculture.
- WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program:Coverage Estimates Improved Water Supply, Arab Republic of Syria, accessed on October 31, 2009]
- WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program:Coverage Estimates Improved Sanitation, Arab Republic of Syria, accessed on October 31, 2009
- M. Salman & W. Mulla. The Utilization of Water Resources for Agriculture in Syria: Analysis of Current Situation and Future Challenges 
- World Bank (2001). Syrian Arab Republic Irrigation Sector Report. Rural Development, Water and Environment Group, Middle East and North Africa Region, Report No. 22602-SYR 
- Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany) & Ministry of Irrigation (Syria). Initial Assessment Study of Water Sector Management in the Syrian Arab Republic, Final Report. Damascus, September 2004
- Embasssy of Syria in China, Tourism:A lake dating back to Egyptian times, accessed on October 31, 2009
- FAO:FAO Aquastat Country Profile, 2008, accessed on October 31, 2009
- AMEinfo.com:Syrian-Qatari Holding (SQH) adds sewage treatment plants to its project list in Syria, November 1, 2009
- GWI – Global Water Intelligence, Vol.10 Issue 11, November 2009, p.16
- Water left out as Syrian PPP law founders, Global Water Intelligence, December 2010, p. 16