It has been 80 days since the earthquake, yet Hatay’s clean water problem persists
MAZLUM BUCUKA- In Hatay, which suffered heavy damage in the earthquakes that occurred in Maras, access to drinking water is still a problem almost three months after the earthquake. The drinking water shortage, which has been ongoing since the early days of the earthquake, has reached critical levels again due to warming weather and decreasing aid to the region.
Volunteers from solidarity networks in the earthquake zone and officials from the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) also drew attention to the lack of clean drinking water in the region in their statements to Arti Gercek. While volunteers in Hatay emphasized that the problems in the region have still not been resolved and that the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has not provided support to the region, Hatay Medical Chamber President Sevdar Yilmaz stated that the problem cannot be solved simply by transporting water into the region, and that the provincial network water supply needs to be made drinkable as soon as possible for a permanent solution.
“WE ARE TRYING TO SOLVE THE WATER NEEDS WITH PERSONAL CONNECTIONS BECAUSE AFAD IS NOT PRESENT IN THE REGION”
Umit Goc, a volunteer from the Karacay Coordination Group, stated that the earthquake made the natural springs in the region undrinkable and that the risk of asbestos increased as the rubble was dumped into the rivers. "We were able to solve the water shortage problem in the Karacay region to some extent with the water treatment plant established by donors," said Goc. "We filter 1,500 liters of water per day and distribute it to the people. Only ten of these treatment plants were installed throughout Antakya. One of them was installed in Samandag Center and the other in Karacay. But of course, this is not enough, water is still a big problem everywhere," he said.
Despite the fact that Karacay is located in the exact middle of Samandag and Antakya centers and is the center of approximately 42 villages, Goc stated that AFAD never provided any support to the region. "We are trying to provide all the water through personal connections. Although we are trying to solve the problem in this region, the problem is very serious in the surrounding areas. Today, a family from Dursunlu village in Antakya contacted us and said, 'We have no water, please send water.' We are sending water from Samandag to Antakya, that is the situation," he said.
IMPORTING WATER IS NOT A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION
Sevdar Yilmaz, the President of the Hatay Chamber of Physicians, stated that although aid occasionally arrives in Hatay, the issue of access to drinking water has become a significant problem as the volume of aid decreases. He stated, "After aid campaigns are made, help arrives, and there seems to be no water problem for the time being, but how long can we manage with imported water?" Yilmaz added, "Now, water must flow from all pipelines, and the water must be made drinkable; transported water is not a [sustainable, long-term solution]. The municipality must make the provincial water network drinkable."
WATER SUPPLY FALLS AS NEED INCREASES WITH SOARING SUMMER TEMPERATURES
Sol Party Hatay parliamentary candidate Serbay Mansuroglu also drew attention to the beginning of summer in the region and the fact that temperatures have already risen above 30 degrees Celsius. Mansuroglu stated that the bottled water coming through solidarity networks is not enough to meet the needs of earthquake victims, "Previously, people could take a shower once a week, but now, with the summer months, daily showers will be necessary, and water is also needed for dishes. So the need is increasing, but the water supply is decreasing, and the municipal water supply cannot be delivered to the city in a healthy way. It is not reaching the people in the villages," he said.
ONLY 5 LITERS OF WATER TO MEET NEEDS OF FAMILIES
Mansuroglu, who also works at the Hatay Solidarity Volunteers Center, said that there is no healthy communication between official institutions and volunteers. Mansuroglu stated, "Healthy information about the water in treatment plants is not shared. When we apply to the municipality, they say 'We are also earthquake victims, our staff cannot perform analysis.’ Other institutions also do not share information about post-earthquake infrastructure improvements."
Mansuroglu said that only bottled water is delivered to the solidarity center and added, "We can only give a five-liter bottle of water to a family of seven or eight people. How can one bottle of water be enough for a family that needs to shower, wash dishes, and drink water?"
THE GOVERNORSHIP HAD STATED THAT THERE IS NO PROBLEM
After the Hatay Municipality's social media post with the hashtag "There is no water in Hatay" during the first month after the earthquake, the Hatay Governorate issued a press release regarding drinking water. The statement indicated that network malfunctions that occurred after the earthquake had been resolved and that there was no problem with using network water for hygiene purposes. The Governorate stated that bottled and container water should be used for drinking purposes and that AFAD continuously supplies drinking water to the region and that sufficient water stock is available. The statement ended with the expression "necessary legal action is being taken against those who spread dark propaganda on social media regarding this issue."
Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu stated in his own press release that social media was being used to spread speculative claims of a "water shortage," and that the water supply was in fact available and continuously distributed to earthquake victims.
MINISTER KOCA: TAP WATER IN HATAY SHOULD NOT BE USED AS DRINKING WATER
Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca, commenting on these claims, had stated the following:
"We advise against using tap water as drinking water during this period in Hatay. There is no problem with using tap water for general purposes. It can be used for cleaning purposes. AFAD is working to provide packaged drinking water that can be used in all regions. Therefore, we can say that there is no problem with water."
TURKISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: DRINKING WATER NEARLY DEPLETED
The Turkish Medical Association, drawing attention to the serious nature of the drinking water crisis in the region, made a post on its social media account yesterday, stating "Drinking water in Hatay is once again at the brink of depletion on the 80th day after the earthquake. In order to protect public health, we call on the authorities to fulfill their responsibilities, to quickly meet the need for drinking water, and to provide safe and clean tap water."