Sep 2, 2009

Drought driving farmers to the cities

Al Hasakah
Photo: Sarah Birke, IRIN
Photo: Sarah Birke, IRIN

Thousands of Syrian farming families have been forced to move to cities in search of alternative work after two years of drought and failed crops followed a number of unproductive years.

Blamed on a combination of climate change, man-made desertification and lack of irrigation, up to 60 percent of Syria's land and 1.3 million people (of a population of 22 million) are affected, according to the UN. Just over 800,000 people have lost their entire livelihood, according to the UN and IFRC.

No-one knows exactly how many people have migrated across the country because of the drought. The Syrian Ministry for Agriculture and Agrarian Reform's estimate in July was 40,000 to 60,000 families, with 35,000 from Hassakeh alone. But with people moving all the time, the figure is likely to be an underestimate