"The returnees face great challenges. In their villages, almost nothing works anymore. Houses, schools and hospitals were destroyed by the so-called IS just like the water systems," says Bilal Lhodi, arche noVa country director in Iraq.
Great demand for safe drinking water
The returning families have no choice but to become active themselves and help themselves with emergency solutions. "In Jalawla, for example, some used the water from neighbouring communities, others got their water from tankers, but many had to resort to the river or swamps. But this water is not suitable for drinking at all," says Bilal Lhodi. A solution was urgently needed. Jalawla is one of the areas where temperatures in summer reach extreme levels and where water in large quantities is therefore existential.
Water network built for 8,000 people
arche noVa repaired and expanded the water network in Jalawla City in recent weeks. Since then, the water supply for 8,000 people has been secured. In addition, our local team took care of the local schools. Toilets were built at five locations in and around Jalawla City to ensure that the children are well cared for during lessons. "The battles destroyed so much, including the school toilets. Entire sewage systems were blocked," Bilal Lhodi describes the situation. The new school toilets will benefit 4,540 children. A great relief for the families, who know that their children are well cared for. The girls in particular benefit from functioning sanitary solutions that ensure their protection and privacy.
Activities for refugee families
The same applies to the other arche noVa project regions in Iraq. Our local team is still active in emergency shelters like Camps Al Wand 1 and 2. There are still hundreds of families living here who were looking for a safe place during the violent clashes. Not everyone has been able to return yet.
In many other places arche noVa takes care of water and sanitation, for example in villages in the district of Khanaqueen, which was not directly affected by fighting. Many fugitives have therefore settled there. With the result that the infrastructure was overloaded. Arche noVa supports the host communities. Recently, sanitary facilities were built or repaired in five schools. Since then, 7,540 pupils have been able to return to normal school life.
For years, people in Iraq have been unable to rest. After the "Islamic State" (IS) was officially defeated in 2017, the authorities are increasingly pursuing the plan to close emergency shelters. Therefore, some sections of the population are preparing to return to their home districts. But in most of the regions or cities occupied by the IS, the need for reconstruction measures is great. Infrastructure has been destroyed, basic needs cannot be met and government departments are inadequately equipped. arche noVa also works in areas that have changed territorial claims and governments since the 2017 referendum, which increases uncertainties. Ensuring functioning social institutions, such as schools and hospitals, and infrastructure that adequately meets basic needs, such as water supply, is essential to support traumatised people.