Irrigation is the process of artificially applying water to dry land or soil. Whether it is a gardener watering their allotment, or using groundwater in order to produce good quality crops for an entire village. The earliest record of irrigation was discovered in Peru and dates from the 4th millennium BCE; irrigation canals in the Andes Mountains.

Irrigation is even more vital for areas such as Syria where rainfall barely exceeds 1mm in July and August. The lack of rainfall is a major issue for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with water availability is expected to fall by 50% of what it currently is by 2050. These are serious concerns facing the whole MENA region.

Israel’s solution to water scarcity includes Netafim, an Israeli company which created drip irrigation. This type of irrigation is highly effective, especially for dryer regions. The water supplied to the crops is dripped directly onto the soil using a network of tubes and valves. The main advantage to using drip irrigation is that due to the water being applied efficiently, there is minimal actual water usage.

However, it can be expensive to set up and there are several ways for it to malfunction without proper care and maintenance. The first polytunnel  had this type of system, linked to the 2 water pumps we provided. Such was the ingenuity of the engineers, they may have rigged up an overhead sprinkling too.

But, the first polytunnel was lost/taken apart when the village was evacuated. The second polytunnel is simpler. Were the engineers to return from Turkey, the irrigation could be greatly improved. They also wanted to have a go at aquaponics.

If the materials could be obtained, it’s not too difficult to build a system. The technical support is on the internet. What is required is the electricity/solar panels to power their computer. Roll-up solar panels might be a possibility, but could attract t attention crossing the border, or from the air. We need technical help!   

Although these methods are successfully applied in these countries, they do depend on an adequate supply of water. Although there are several groundwater aquifers, dams, and a large amount of external renewable surface water resources, Syria’s water usage has increased a great deal, whilst water resources are reducing due to the lower annual precipitation. Some predictions state that these resources will not last more than 25 years. As a result of Syria’s water usage compared to their water availability, Syria has set up agreements with several countries regarding the allocation of water, including Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey, however some conflict between the countries has arisen.

The drip irrigation system that Israel employs is expensive to set up and there are several ways for it to malfunction without proper care and maintenance

As of 2006, 54% of cultivated land was owned by the private sector, cooperatives owned 45%, leaving the public sector less than 0.5% of land. The main irrigation technique used in Syria is surface irrigation, which is on the whole, inefficient, therefore of the small percentage of land, less than 60% is being used to its full potential. Regardless of developments in irrigation and drainage, the cost of a drip system ranges from US$1000 to US$3000 per hectare, and between US$2000 and US$2400 per hectare for a sprinkler system. These developments are not viable options for our village.