A well of hope at Zaatari refugee camp

Jordan, Syria

January 4, 2013

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Current tap stands only get water from truck deliveries — which is not enough for the growing number of refugees who continue settling at Jordan's Zaatari camp after fleeing Syria. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  <span class="field-credit">
    Jeremy Barnicle/Mercy Corps  </span>
    After months of digging and underground construction, this new deep well will be a reliable source of more water for the camp and surrounding communities who are hosting refugees. Photo: Jeremy Barnicle/Mercy Corps

On my recent visit to the Zaatari refugee camp just on the Jordan side of the Syria-Jordan border, people told me all about their needs.

More schools for the kids. Better health facilities. Winter-ready housing. Better sense of security. More and better food.

But since this camp opened back in July, the biggest issue has been water. According to the United Nations, Zaatari is a temporary home for more than 40,000 Syrian refugees, and yet access to water has been limited from the start.

That’s where our longtime partnership with Xylem Watermark — a global water technology company — is poised to make a huge difference.

After years of collaborating to deliver clean water to people in need, we immediately began working together to meet the growing demands for water at Zaatari. Storage tanks and pumps have been distributing water that's brought in on daily truck deliveries, but the cornerstone of this project is a deep well that will go into operation early this new year.

Not only will the well serve the refugees of Zaatari camp, but also tens of thousands of local residents — the Jordanians who have been hosting the refugees — who have also struggled for years to find a reliable water source that meets their needs.

“Everybody here is looking forward to having easier access to clean water,” Elena Buryan, head of Mercy Corps’ emergency response team in Jordan, told me as we walked through Zaatari followed by children. “As you can see, the current water and sanitation set-up is not great.”

Now that the digging is done and the large equipment is gone, the well itself is, well, underwhelming — a shallow cement block rising from the sprawling desert ground. As Mort Anushinavani, the water engineer who runs Mercy Corps’ infrastructure team, noted, “We usually joke about how our best work is buried underground.”

But in terms of impact for people in need, the well is tapping into something tremendous: Within a couple months, it will be providing enough clean, reliable water for more than 65,000 people to cook, clean and drink. That’s something to feel great about.

How you can help

  • Follow the latest updates on Mercy Corps' response to the Syrian refugee crisis and share stories to raise awareness and support.

  • Donate today. Your gift to our Syria Crisis Response will help us get even more clean water to Syrian refugees struggling to survive this disaster.

  • Learn more about how Xylem Watermark is working to solve water around the world.