EXCERPT FROM “The Role of Drought and Climate Change in the Syrian Uprising: Untangling the Triggers of the Revolution”: I will argue that it was not the drought per se, but rather the government’s failure to respond to the ensuing humanitarian crisis that formed one of the triggers of the uprising, feeding a discontent that had long been simmering in rural areas. Drought forms an integral part of Syria’s (semi-)arid climate and is not an exceptional phenomenon. Countries in the region such as Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine were also affected by drought in 2007/8, but only Syria experienced a humanitarian crisis, with large-scale migration of populations and widespread malnutrition. I will argue that this can be explained by the fact that the humanitarian crisis in fact predated the drought.
Francesca de Châtel is a PhD student at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Her doctoral research examines the influence of religious, technological and political narratives on socio-cultural attitudes to water in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).