Syria - South Dana sub-district | Idleb: IDP Camps and Informal Sites Flood Susceptibility and Flood Hazard Assessment (August 2021)



In northwest Syria winter storms have the potential to generate devastating floods which have a disproportionate effect on internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps and informal sites. Recurrent heavy rain between 14 and 31 January 2021 generated widespread flooding throughout northwest Syria, affecting an estimated 122,953 internally displaced people (IDPs) and resulting in the death of a child and injuries to three other individuals. More than 300 camps and sites throughout the governorates of Idleb and Aleppo were impacted by the floods, 8400 shelters were reportedly destroyed, while a further 13,800 shelters suffered some level of damage. Thousands of households were forced to seek shelter in schools, mosques and open spaces where winter temperatures dipped below freezing.

Winter flooding within IDP camps and sites throughout Idleb and western Aleppo has been a recurrent problem for several years, the recent devastation suffered by vulnerable populations in these locations is tragically only the most recent example following many similar previous events in the past. In November 2016, camps in Dana sub-district were impacted by flooding which inundated tents and accessways causing destruction of property and movement difficulties. In December 2018 another severe storm resulted in widespread flooding throughout Idleb and Aleppo, and damage to tents and property was reported in more than 60 camps. Again, in March 2019 heavy rainfall caused severe flash flooding in the region, damaging road infrastructure and destroying food stocks. In June 2020 heavy rain in Ma’aret Tamsrin, south of Dana sub-district, caused severe flooding, resulting in the loss of three lives, and reportedly destroying hundreds of shelters and putting sanitation facilities out of service.

IDPs are among the population groups most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters associated with natural hazards for a number of reasons. The primary reasons are linked with the locations and living conditions of the sites where IDPs live. IDP sites and settlements are frequently located on land that has traditionally been considered uninhabitable due to environmental factors such as steep terrain, rocky or arid ground, or land that is known to be prone to seasonal flooding. Moreover, IDPs in camps and informal sites often live in densely populated environments and in shelters that are not designed to resist natural hazards. In addition to the immediate hazard flash floods present to people and property, poor drainage and persistent standing water in and around shelters can lead to numerous health and sanitation problems in camps and informal sites extending the adverse effects of flooding beyond the event itself. Lastly, the current outbreak of COVID-19 and the rising number of confirmed cases in northwest Syria, add to the particularly concerning situation in the camps and informal sites this upcoming winter.

Since the beginning of winter 2019 the number of IDPs living in Dana sub-district has increased by more than 35% from 617,000 IDPs in November 2019 to 845,000 in August 2020 following an escalation in conflict in early 2020. As of July 2021 IDP numbers in Dana sub-district are 916,273. Increased migration to areas with already high numbers of IDP populations is likely to result in IDPs living in increasingly dense living settings in locations considered less suitable for habitation and potentially more exposed to natural hazards like flooding.

This output presents the results of a flood hazard assessment undertaken by REACH with the aim of highlighting shelters located within IDP sites which may be most susceptible to flood hazards. The assessment focuses on the catchment of South Dana sub-district which includes Tilaada, Sarmada, Kafr Deryan, Dana, Tal Ekaramehj and Deir Hassan camp clusters which have reportedly experienced flooding on multiple occasions since 2016.