Solar-powered wells revive farming in post-ISIL Iraq

Read how UNDP helps farmers in post-ISIL Iraq, adapt to sustainable agricultural practices with solar-powered wells.

February 26, 2023
UNDP in Iraq


In the village of al-Fadiliya in Iraq, Younis Jalal Salman, a 55-year-old farmer, has been a change-maker in his community. A farmer for over 30 years, he runs a farm that covers 30 acres of land and consists of olive trees, grapes, figs, and pears.  

Younis shares his farm with his five brothers, five sisters, and their families. Their household comprises over 40 people, including his mother, who was left paralyzed during the conflict.   


UNDP in Iraq

Younis points to the damage to the equipment caused by ISIL. Photo: UNDP Iraq.


In 2014, the conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began, significantly impacting Younis and his family. They lost most of their crops and were forced to flee. 

"We risked leaving behind our only source of income that my entire family depended on.”
Younis Jalal Salman

After liberation from ISIL, Younis and his family returned to their farm, hoping to rebuild their lives. However, they were met with absolute devastation. 

“Our land was left burnt, and our well was left damaged. We struggled to irrigate our crops, having dipped into our savings to make ends meet.”
Younis Jalal Salman
UNDP in Iraq

<Photo> Younis and his son monitor the solar panels. Photo: UNDP Iraq.


To help farmers like Younis restart their lives, UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization, with funding from Japan, rehabilitated wells and upgraded them with solar power. To date, UNDP has rebuilt over 40 wells across Ninewa and equipped them with 36 solar systems, reaching over 1,700 farmers and their families.  

Previously, farmers had to use generators or electricity to operate the well, which cost around US$700 per month in diesel for 10 barrels. 

UNDP in Iraq

Younis tracks the power generated. Photo: UNDP Iraq.


However, today, Younis shares that they have significantly benefited from the solar panels and helped his family adapt to modern solutions while preserving traditional agriculture practices. "Since we shifted to solar panels, this has saved us a lot of money. We don't have to worry about the cost of running the well now, only ensuring the panels are maintained."  

The use of solar-powered wells not only helps farmers save money but also positively impacts the environment. Climate change has led to increasingly erratic weather patterns, making it difficult for farmers to predict and plan their harvests. The traditional reliance on fossil fuel-powered water pumps has also contributed to greenhouse gas emissions, further exacerbating climate change.  

UNDP in Iraq

Younis waters his crops. Photo: UNDP Iraq.


Switching to solar-powered wells not only helps farmers like Younis adapt to changing climate but also reduces their carbon footprint and helps combat climate change. 

Younis's farm serves as a model for the community. He hopes organizations will support other farmers to adopt solar-powered wells. He believes that this is the way forward for sustainable agriculture in Iraq. 

"As a farmer, I know how important it is to have a reliable water source for irrigation. Solar-powered wells provide a consistent power source without costly diesel generators. Plus, they're environmentally friendly and don't require any ongoing fuel costs. It's a win-win for farmers and the environment,"
Younis Jalal Salman
UNDP in Iraq

Younis has expanded his orchard to include grapes. Photo: UNDP Iraq


Today, Younis has expanded his orchard to include 660 trees and a well to serve it

"However, the water levels decrease significantly after drawing water from it for two hours."
Younis Jalal Salman


His family hopes to extend the water network from the solar powered well to irrigate the new orchard.  

Younis has influenced other farmers to adopt solar-powered wells. During harvesting season, they hire workers from the village to support. His farm benefits ten other families who also live on the farm.  

UNDP in Iraq

Younis has now expanded his orchard. Photo: UNDP Iraq.


Younis's story shows the resilience of farmers in the face of adversity. Solar-powered wells provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution to the water supply problem that farmers face in post-ISIL Iraq. His efforts to influence other farmers to adopt solar-powered wells will have a lasting impact on the environment and the community, which is crucial in the face of climate change.