A hygiene promoter in conversation with a mother who has two small children with her, in the background tents of a camp

Iraq: In camps and villages fled families receive water and basic aid


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Iraq has been in a state of crisis for years. Highlight: the reign of terror of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) that lasted three years. In 2017, he was officially defeated territorially. The relief was great in large parts of the country. Nevertheless, people must continue to reckon with attacks and asymmetric fighting by armed groups. Again and again religious and ethnic tensions flare up. Added to this is the tense political and economic situation. Nearly four million people continue to be dependent on humanitarian aid, 1.7 million of whom are particularly needy. Most of them are internally displaced persons. Although many people who were affected by the crisis have now returned home, they are now facing difficult economic conditions, insecurity and dilapidated infrastructure.
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Humanitarian aid in emergency shelters for displaced families

arche noVa has been deployed in Iraq since the outbreak of violence under the rule of “IS” in 2014. Beginning with fast distribution of relief supplies our help has grown into a comprehensive program focusing on the care of people in refugee camps. We supply up to 15,000 people with drinking water, sanitary facilities and hygiene articles at their places of refuge. Our team on site ensures the supply around the clock and reactes immediately to changing conditions.

arche noVas - WASH for IDPs in Iraq

©arche noVa

Although the last major population movement took place in 2017, people are still dependent on support in camps. This is also the case in areas of the Kurdish Autonomous Government in Sulaymaniyah, where arche noVa will take over the supply of WASH for three more camps in 2020 at short notice. Their inhabitants can rely on the fact that they have daily access to drinking water, that their sanitary facilities are working and that they receive advice and support in hygiene issues. Although the authorities in many regions are increasingly pursuing the plan to close down emergency shelters, it can be assumed that these camps in Sulaymaniyah and three more in Diyala, where arche noVa is working, will remain open in the foreseeable future.

Reconstruction will be a huge effort

For the foreseeable future, humanitarian aid will be needed in Iraq - including in emergency shelters, where a total of 340,000 people are still housed in 2020. Meanwhile, international donors and the Iraqi government are working to support returning families in their villages and to promote more long-term solutions. But the reality looks sobering in many places. Many refugee families report that it is impossible for them to return to their villages because they would find highly unsafe conditions there. In the areas freed from the IS, the picture is dominated by extensive destruction of houses and infrastructure and a lack of employment opportunities. In addition, the security situation remains tense, mainly due to attacks by IS splinter groups. The reconstruction of the infrastructure, the economy and reconciliation within society requires a great deal of time and effort from all parties involved: the people affected, the Iraqi government, the local authorities and the international community.

arche noVa builds water systems and sanitary facilities in villages and schools

The local arche noVa team is preparing for new tasks. In the long term, this also involves an exit strategy for the people in the emergency shelters. arche noVa would like to support the return of families to their homeland or their settlement in other parts of the country. Kirkuk and Northern Diyala have been identified as so-called hot spots for returnees.The needs of the people are our first priority. Our goal is sustainable aid.

This is why, in addition to our activities in emergency shelters, we have also been involved in rural communities for a long time. According to our expertise, we take care of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of municipal water and drainage systems. We work in communities where many refugee families have found refuge. Step by step, we are extending these activities to communities that have been fought over and have since been largely destroyed. The programme includes repairs to water pipes, wells and sewage systems. We are also renewing the drinking water and sanitation systems in schools and health stations. In total, our construction measures will benefit around 100,000 people.

Further expanding local cooperation

In order to improve local structures in the long term, we are also supporting the local water authority in Kalar. It receives the necessary equipment and materials to control and ensure the quality of drinking water. In Sulaymaniyah and Diyala, our local team heads the WASH focal point, a committee in which authorities and international organisations coordinate activities in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene.

These activities will be extended in 2020 in the framework of a transitional aid project in favour of returning families. arche noVa will work on the creation of sustainable service structures in the WASH sector in the same project regions and communities.

A look at the history of arche noVa shows how close the region of Northern Iraq is to our hearts. Iraqi Kurdistan was the target of the first arche noVa mission during the second Iraq war in 1992. It resulted in the foundation of the organisation. Further missions in the region followed: 1994 and 2003 to 2006.

Currently we are able to carry out our activities by participating in two consortium projects supported by UN OCHA and DG ECHO. Furthermore arche noVa finances activities with funds from Aktion Deutschland hilft. In the second half of 2020 arche noVa is expected to receive funds from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

arche noVas work in Iraq

© arche noVa

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sanitary supply for a family in the camp
secure drinking water for 15 people in the camp
Contribution to the development of water supply and sanitation in schools

Project Overview

Improvement of the living conditions, especially the supply of WASH, for internally displaced persons and returnees in the governorates of Diyala, Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah in northern Iraq
Target Group

17,500 people in emergency shelters

  • IDP Camp Al-Wand 1 and 2 with about 800 households, IDP Camp Qoratou with about 200 households, Ashti IDP Camp with about 2,100 households, Arbat IDP Camp with about 340 households, Tazade IDP Camp with about 260 households

100,000 people by the rehabilitation of the WASH infrastructure


In the IDP Camps:

  • operation and maintenance of water supply
  • water quality measurements
  • maintenance of sanitary facilities including showers
  • cleaning of the sewage system
  • emptying of septic tanks
  • distribution of hygiene kits and training in hygiene and health care
  • waste disposal
  • Support of basic hygiene supply in schools: distribution of cleaning equipment and soap

In rural communities, especially in host and returnee communities:

  • Rehabilitation of a total of 13 water and sanitation systems in communities, a health centre and 7 schools in Diyala for about 100,000 people including about 4,500 students and about 350 patients per month
  • 700 hygiene training courses in schools and communities in Diyala, including the development of cooperation with teachers
  • Support for the local water authority in Kalar and Kirkuk
  • WASH Focal Point leads the sub-WASH cluster in Sulaymaniyah and Diyala
  • Needs analyses for further areas outside the camps, evaluation of past project activities
Since August 2014
Co-operation partners
  • Solidarités International
  • Terre des Hommes (Tdh)
  • Aktion Deutschland Hilft (Germany's Relief Coalition)
  • Iraqi Humanitarian Fund UN OCHA
  • Private donors


Portrait Meike John mit roter Pumpe
Meike John
Editor Public Relations
+49 351 481984-12
meike.john [at] arche-nova.org