Farmers in NE Syria keep being engaged in farming despite water scarcity

This report by Ronîda Hacî was published by Jinha Women’s New Agency on 9 August 2022

Kevokê Dahir, a farmer in North and East Syria, thinks that Turkey’s cutting off the water of the Khabur River as a global crime and calls on the human rights organizations to stop this crime.

Agriculture plays an important role for women since they make up a large part of agricultural labor. After the Revolution in Rojava, Turkey cut off the water of the Khabur River, the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syria, and this caused a water crisis affecting the agricultural sector across North and East Syria. The women, who make a living from their land, keep being engaged in farming despite all the barriers of Turkey. 60-year-old Kevokê Dahir is one of these women. She lives in the Til Necma village of Tell Tamer town. She grows vegetables in her garden so as not to be affected by the economic crisis.

“Farming is a part of my life”

Stating that farming is a part of her life because she has been engaged in farming since her childhood, Kevokê Dahir said, “I have spent the most time in gardens since my childhood. In the past, most of the people used to be engaged in farming. We learned how to farm cotton, plant vegetables and trees in gardens. I love spending time in gardens. For this reason, I make a living by planting vegetables in my garden.”

“We had to dig a water well”

Speaking about her daily work, Kevokê Dahir said, “I dig the soil and divide my garden into sections. I plant pepper, tomato, eggplant, cucumber, corn and okra in each section. After planting these vegetables, we need water so that the worms do not damage the vegetables. Undoubtedly, irrigation is also very difficult when we do not have enough water. The Turkish state has cut off the water of the Khabur River since the Revolution in Rojava. For this reason, farmers can no longer plant some crops such as corn, wheat, etc. We were desperate and had to dig a water well to water our garden. Women farmers bear all difficulties. In summer, they have to work despite the hot weather and they have to endure the cold in winter.”

“Agricultural development can prevent economic crisis”

Referring to the importance of agricultural development, Kevokê Dahir emphasized the importance of agricultural development against the economic crisis. “Development of agriculture is very important particularly while we have been suffering from the war in Syria. Now, we suffer from an economic crisis and we should struggle to get out of this crisis. I prepare canned vegetables for both winter and summer because we must take our precautions. My garden is like my child. We work hard but we never get tired because all family members work together. I make a living by selling the vegetables,” she said.

“Cutting of the water of the Khabur River is a global crime”

Noting that Turkey’s cutting off the water of the Khabur River is a global crime, Kevokê Dahir called on the human rights organizations to “stop the Turkish state from committing this crime.”