FAO in Syria

Main irrigation canal in Hama operates again after destruction by earthquake.

Farmers resumed their agricultural activities after the conduction of rehabilitation works on the main irrigation canal in Hama

“That night of the earthquake was horrifying.  The main irrigation canal was severely cracked, and we were so worried that we would lose the crops for the season because couldn’t water,” said Ahmad Al Kurdi, head of the Water User Association (WUA) in Mhardeh. “Now, thanks to the construction works by FAO, we are confident about the upcoming agricultural seasons”.

Back in February 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused severe destruction to a critical irrigation canal that served as a lifeline for agricultural activities in Mhardeh, in Hama governorate, running the prospects for more than 14 000 farming families.  Overall, the devastating earthquake affected the lives of more than 11 million people in Syria, according to the UN estimates, adding to the pressure of securing basic living needs for those who have suffered twelve years of crisis in the country.

In response, with a deep commitment to supporting vulnerable farmers and sustaining agricultural production, FAO, with the support of Norway through FAO SFERA, immediately responded by commissioning rehabilitation works to the damaged canal, successfully restoring a vital 6-kilometer section out of a total length of 42 kilometers.

“Our actions towards achieving early recovery for the agricultural sector as well as strengthening the resilience of small-scale farmers are at the core of FAO’s mission in the country,” said Mike Robson, FAO Representative at the Syrian Arab Republic office. “The earthquake had threatened the farmers’ livelihoods and caused the increase of food insecure people. With the rehabilitation of Mhardeh Canal, FAO has encouraged farmers to resume cultivation for the coming seasons, ensuring their self-reliance”, he added.

The successful completion of the works was made possible with the support Norway. Still, there remains a pressing need to support more vulnerable farmers in the area with access to irrigation. FAO appeals for additional funding of USD 2 million to complete the rehabilitation of other parts of the canal system in Mhardeh. This will secure the ability of a further 10,000 families to produce food, reinforcing the livelihoods and income of small-scale farmers as part of the early recovery of an area badly affected by hostilities during the crisis.