SYRIA

'Ghouta Dry': Syrians produce soda despite crippling siege

Eastern Ghouta is under relentless siege by the Syrian government, with everything from medicine to basic foodstuffs unable to get through to the city. Despite the crippling blockade, an ingenious group of activists has managed to concoct a new fizzy drink: they’ve dubbed it 'Ghouta Dry'.

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Eastern Ghouta is under relentless siege by the Syrian government, with everything from medicine to basic foodstuffs unable to get through to the city. Despite the crippling blockade, an ingenious group of activists has managed to concoct a new fizzy drink: they’ve dubbed it 'Ghouta Dry'...

The city of Eastern Ghouta has been besieged by the Syrian regime for almost three years. The whole area is currently under the control of several rebel factions, including Islamist groups such as the Islamic Front and the Al Nusra Front [Editor's note: Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria]. Roughly one million people live with scarcely any food and under constant fear of bombardment.

Ghouta Dry soda is on sale in Ghouta's markets. Photo published on Twitter.

Yasser Doumani is an activist who reports mainly on the fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition. But he's also made a report on the little factory pumping out fizzy drinks in his city.

The factory began production a week ago. The project was launched by a group of young local activists. They've already set up a bunch of cultural activities for local residents, such as workshops where they paint on bomb shells.

Report on Ghouta Dry byYasser Doumani

I visited their little factory, based in a private residence, where they showed me their system for distilling water. They also appealed to local pharmacists who got them effervescent products to make the bubbles. These same pharmacists also helped them come up with the recipe for the drink.

Ghouta Dry is offered in several flavours. Photo published on
Facebook.

The drink was then put in old glass bottles found scattered all around. As for the machine that corks the bottles, it was salvaged from another old factory. But the hardest ingredient to find was sugar: since the start of the siege, sugar has rarely been available in the city. As a result, its price has skyrocketed – it now costs around 1,700 lira per kilogram [Editor's note: roughly €10].

People here are happy, the soda is very cheap. Those who produce it aren't out to make a profit, they just want to make back the money that they invest in it. They've already produced some 7,000 bottles. But the aim of the operation is also to attract attention to the plight of the city's residents – those who survive with hardly any food and under constant fear of being bombarded.