The environment

The environment deterioration has been a concern for citizens since a long time, due to some harsh environmental circumstances imposing on citizens a feeling of bad management by specialised authorities, on one hand, and also awareness rising among them with regards to the need for the availability of healthy environment circumstances, through which their relation with their immediate surrounding would become better.

Therefore, some environmental phenomenon that Syria witnessed had highly effective economic and social dimensions. We mention, for example, the drought in the past years, which forced rural inhabitants in many villages in northern Syria to migrate to the suburbs of major towns in order to make a living. That internal migration had an effect on the deterioration of their livelihoods, on one hand, and on the concentration of population growth in the city suburbs, which led to a growth in unemployment phenomenon in cities. Moreover, environment phenomena that are related to drought led to a shrinkage in agricultural land and, therefore, the Syrian economy, which is largely dependent on agriculture, was affected.

The environmental problem that resulted from bad management by specialists, and also by bad usage from citizens, can be categorised into two parts:

  • The first part is related to the volume of available resources and their shortage in fulfilling the increasing needs of people, like a cut in drinking water, the wastage of water and the drought of the Barada river.
  • The second part is related to the quality of environmental resources and the pollution that they are subject to, like the pollution of drinking water  and pollution of the air in Homs because of the refinery, and in Banias because of the cement factory, and the increase in pollution phenomena and bad scents because of the shortage in maintaining sewage pipes and garbage fills.

In addition to that is the expansion in industrial and population projects at the expense of green areas, like Damascus Guta, which is threatened by pollution and extinction because of industrial projects and their waste.

The apparent reason is explained by some citizens as being neglect or shortcomings by the authorities in managing environmental issues, especially those that are related to preventing bad usage and management risks. We mention, for example, forest fires and the catastrophe of the Zaisoun dam collapse in 2002, which contributed to an increase in anger among some citizens and their feeling of impotency towards the physical and emotional effects that come as a result of catastrophes.

Despite modern steps that the previous governments adopted, especially with regards to environmental legislations, there is an impression that the environmental issue in Syria is yet to crystallise in a political, social or even scientific formula of any significance. On the other hand, there is a growth in public awareness with regards to the need of preserving the environment and to preserve their immediate surroundings. This is noticed through an increase in complaints in Syrian journalism, which expresses the fact that these fears are real.

The current crisis came to aggravate the risk of environment collapse through the freehand it suffered in fires that targeted forests, agricultural areas, oil wells, electricity generators, to garbage piling and increase in gasses and pollution as a result of battles. Moreover, with the neglect and bulldozing that affected agricultural lands in order for them to be made a theatre for military operations, and their inhabitants having to flee them, we came before a real environmental catastrophe that requires an environmental awareness, a specialist action and a new culture to rescue what was destroyed and to rebuild once more which requires work that would take years.

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