Million-dollar project collapsed in Urfa: Villagers carry water with donkeys

Fatma Keber

URFA – The Gedik Drinking Water Project, which was started to solve the water problem in the Siverek district of Urfa for many years, did not work. Villagers struggling with thirst carry water with donkeys from about 3 kilometers away. Diseases have also increased in the villages due to the polluted water carried. Indicating that the authorities are indifferent to the water problem, the villagers are waiting for an urgent solution.


Many villages in the district, including the center, have been experiencing thirst in summer for a long time. The water wells in the villages were insufficient. In order to solve the problem, Urfa Metropolitan Municipality implemented the Gedik Drinking Water Project five years ago.

In 2017, the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Ahmed Cabir al-Sabah, donated $5 million for the infrastructure of Urfa in return for the Order of the Republic of Turkey gesture given to him by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. With this grant, the Gedik Drinking Water Project was launched in 2018 to address the drinking water problem of 14 rural neighborhoods of Siverek.

Initially, the project included 14 rural neighborhoods, namely Gökçetaş, Çerkez, Çağdaş, Çukurca, İnançlı, Sapan, Kartal, Gögercin, Karahisar, Defere, Garoz, Küptepe, Çelebi and Kufr. But two years later, nine more neighborhoods, namely Taşhan, Gedik, Kayalar, Böğürtlen, Güllice, Karacadağ, Yumurtepe, were added to the project.

According to the villagers, the addition of villages that are not in the project further exacerbated the water problem. CHP Istanbul Deputy Mahmut Tanal and his accompanying CHP delegation visited Çukurca and Gökçetaş villages. The delegation, which met with the villagers, also took a sample from the well used as drinking water. In his statement after the visit, Tanal pointed to the villages added later as the reason for the project’s non-functionality and stated that the project collapsed because the plan was violated.


Stating that they were not given water in the first two years of the project, Olkan Kırtay from Gökçetaş village said, “At first, we were told to give it to Siverek because there were many problems in Siverek. When the water problem in Siverek eased, they started to give water to the villages. They later included some villages in the project. We didn’t get any water,” he said.

Mahmut İksamuķ, the headman of Karahisar village, told that they have been struggling for 30 years to get water to the village. İksamuk said: “With the villages added later, the irrigation area increased and the water began to be insufficient. No one can stay in the village because of thirst. They either go to Siverek, to Urfa or to other cities. Where there is no water, there is no life. There is not even a planted tree in the village. In this period, water is still carried on the back of the donkey. We have complained hundreds of times, but we have not received a response.”


Celal Çelik, who lives in Güvercin village within the scope of the project, said that he got sick after drinking the water from the tankers. Çelik stated that he had a hospital report showing that he was infected and that his treatment was continuing at the Faculty of Medicine of Dicle University. Çelik said, “The doctors diagnosed an infection. “I caught such a disease because I drank dirty and dirty water,” he said.


The headman of Zincirliçay Village, Fethi Kırtay, also complains about a similar situation. Explaining that they drank from both the water they carried from the well and the water that came with the tanker, Kırtay said, “Many children became ill because of this. Diseases such as diarrhea and vomiting occur. Water came with a tanker the other day. They carried diesel with a tanker before, they brought water with that tanker, they gave us that water. Many people got sick from this water. About 14 villages are experiencing these problems, they are getting sick from dirty water,” he said.

The headman of Güvercin Village, Abdulgafur Çelik, said, “Come to the wells, look, there are turtles, there are dead snakes. We can’t even make ablution in the village, there is not that much water. “The children are getting sick,” he said.


Mehmet Uslu, Deputy General Manager of ŞUSKİ (Şanlıurfa Metropolitan Municipality Water and Sewerage Administration) on the subject, made the following statement: A well to be supplied to that area with supplemental water has been dug, and its superstructure is being built. We do not have any problems in the winter, as I said in the summer, there is insufficiency due to excessive use. We will support with reinforcement wells.”

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