Humanitarian situation overview in Syria (HSOS): Northeast Syria, February 2021

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Introduction and Methodology

HSOS is a monthly assessment that provides comprehensive, multi-sectoral information about the humanitarian conditions and priority needs inside Syria. This factsheet presents a thematic review based on the HSOS assessment of the priority needs and humanitarian assistance, economic conditions, living conditions, access to basic services, COVID-19 situation, and security and protection situation in Northeast Syria. Sector-specific indicator findings by location can be found on the HSOS dashboard.

The assessment is conducted using a key informant (KI) methodology at the community level. REACH enumerators are based inside Syria and interview three to five KIs per assessed location, either directly or remotely (via phone). KIs are chosen based on their community-level and sector-specific knowledge. This factsheet presents information gathered in 1,205 communities across Aleppo1 (162 communities), Ar-Raqqa (261 communities), Al-Hasakeh (712 communities), and Deir-ez-Zor (70 communities) governorates. Data was collected between 31 of January -14 of February 2021 from 3,861 KIs (21% female). Unless specified by an endnote, all indicators refer to the situation in the 30 days prior to data collection (January 2020/ February 2021). Findings are indicative rather than representative, and should not be generalized across the population and region. Findings that are calculated based on a subset of the community are indicated by the following footnote, with each subset specified in the endnotes.

The complete monthly HSOS dataset is available on the REACH Resource Centre.

Key Highlights

February findings highlight significant challenges for populations across Northeast Syria (NES) in accessing water and electricity. Those relying on agriculture to meet their basic needs were particularly impacted by electricity shortages, increasing prices and rainfall deficits. Further, hostilities remained a threat to civilians in Deir-ez-Zor and along the Turkish border.

  • Fuel shortages and increased fuel prices negatively affected access to water. In February, 13 water stations in Al-Hasakeh and in Deir-ez-Zor stopped functioning because of fuel shortages.a In 58% of the assessed communities, not all households had access to sufficient water. The issue of insufficient water particularly hit Deir-ez-Zor and Al-Hasakeh governorates, where in 10 out of the 20 assessed sub-districts all assessed communities reported insufficient access to water for a proportion of households.

  • Heightened fuel prices also increased the operational cost of generators, raising the price of electricity. In Al-Hasakeh, the high price of fuel for generators and solar panels were mentioned as barriers to accessing electricity in 46% and 40% of the assessed communities, respectively. In Deir-ez-Zor, more than half of the assessed communities reported the high price of generators and the shortage of fuels for generators. Households in Al-Hasakeh and in Deir-ez-Zor governorates reportedly could access electricity less than seven hours per day in 48% and 57% of the assessed communities, respectively.

  • Reduced access to electricity from the main network increased the demand for more expensive sources of electricity, especially within agricultural production. Due to prolonged power outages, farmers in Al-Hasakeh reportedly replaced electric water pumping engines used for irrigation by more expensive diesel engines. Moreover, to cope with power cuts, some households in NES resorted to using solar panels and large batteries which were reported to be unaffordable for a proportion of households in 27% and 97% of communities, respectively. A drop in the availability of hydroelectric power following reduced water levels of the Euphrates river also increased the demand for solar panels and batteries in Ar-Raqqa.

  • Dry weather conditions continued to impact the agricultural sector. Rainfall deficits limited yield prospects for wheat crops and decreased the area of rain-fed pastures. In Aleppo, three quarters of the assessed communities were reportedly negatively affected by the seasonality of agricultural production. Degradation of agricultural lands and crop damage was reported as a barrier to accessing livelihoods in 23% of the assessed communities in NES. This issue was reported in nearly all assessed communities in the sub-districts of Hole, Jawadiyah and Ya'robiyah, in Al-Hasakeh.

  • The security situation remained fragile, in particular at the Turkish border and in Deir-ez-Zor. Clashes were reported in Al-Hasakeh governorate. In Ein Issa sub-district, the threat from shelling was reported by KIs, while nearly all assessed communities in the sub-districts of Hajin and Susat, in Deir-ez-Zor governorate, reported the threat from imminent conflict.