Cash-for-Work project in Halabja paves a safer and easier road to school for local children

Posted December 4, 2018

42 host community members, IDPs and refugees employed to restore roads and walkways that will enable safe access to schools and markets for families in Halabja.

Engineers speak to community members at the site of Sirwan road construction project. Photo: Credit Marley Tinnock/UNDP Iraq/2018

To neighbours in the communities of Azadi and Sirwan, in northern Iraq, paved roads mean much more than improved accessibility for cars. Once loose dust and rock, the road network connecting homes and markets posed a hazard for children during the regions season of heavy rainfall. “They had to put those plastic bags and boots which was especially difficult for the kids to go to school,” described 15-year-old Shahad, an IDP from Baghdad.

“Especially in this area in winter we have a high rate of rainfall. And the land here was agricultural land before – so when it rains, it becomes mud, also posing health-hazards for pedestrians,” added Mr. Omed Noori Hama-Salih, Supervising Engineer, Municipality of Sirwan Subdistrict.

Shahad and her younger sister are IDPs from Baghdad. Photo: Credit Marley Tinnock/UNDP Iraq/2018

UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP) recently supported a project that would enable the Governorate of Halabja to restore this essential basic service. Following the launch in September, 42 individuals (host community members, internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees) received temporary employment opportunities to work on the project as engineers, labourers and administrative support.

This project is one of 28 that were made possible with generous funding from the Federal Government of Germany, supporting the construction and restoration of critical services such as sewerage, electricity, water and roads for some 680,000 people across the Sulaimaniyah & Halabja Governorates and Raparin & Garmiyan Administrations, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Mr Othman Aziz has lived in this community since 1978 and welcomes the project to improve mobility in Sirwan. Photo: Credit Marley Tinnock/UNDP Iraq/2018

In Azadi and Sirwan, IDPs, refugees and host community members are working together to improve the road and walkway networks for the benefit of all 1,500 community members. “In the past years, this was muddy and all children could not go to school easily and people could not go to do their services and visit market, but now when it will be paved of course it will ease our lives,” said Mr. Othman Aziz, a resident since 1978. “We consider that we will be having a new life because then our kids can go to school easily and our families will have an easy and nice access road to go and run their daily lives.”

Since 2014, Halabja Governorate has become host to more than 653 refugees and 7,177 IDPs, leaving their homes to find safety and security. Today, the pressure to ensure the provision of basic infrastructure and services is intensified by severe financial crisis, ultimately affecting the quality of life in the region for the host communities, as well as the IDPs and refugees they host.

Kazhin and her husband on-site at the Sirwan road construction. Photo: Credit Marley Tinnock/UNDP Iraq/2018

Key infrastructure like this road network, are being rehabilitated or constructed with the support of UNDP, to try and relieve some of the strain. “It has a very positive impact and serves both the host community and the IDPs as well,” commented Kazhin, a civil engineer from Halabja, completing the land surveying and supervising the process of the project.
Kazhin and her husband have joined 817 other individuals who will benefit from the temporary employment that the 28 cash-for-work projects across the region will provide this year, “It has a double benefit. It provides a service, but it also creates jobs for people.”