Iraq Article

Municipal services under pressure as IDPs flock to Dohuk

A sanitation worker in Dohuk, Iraq, stands beside a wall of garbage five meters high. At the Kwashe Landfill Site, domestic and industrial waste is more than just an eyesore—it is also a source of pollution and ground water contamination.

Expanding populations, overwhelmed sanitation services

In the districts of Dohuk, Sumel and Zakho, sites like the Kwashe Landfill have experienced an unfeasible doubling of waste received. This is due to the displacement of people of concern (PoC) to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), beginning in 2014. Dohuk Governorate hosts nearly 90,000 Syrian refugees in addition to 350,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), increasing dramatically the population size of the area.

This influx of population has strained the capacity of municipalities to provide public services to local communities. Of the affected services, WASH is one of the most pressing, as maintaining sufficient quantity and quality of service delivery is crucial for the health and hygiene of both displaced and host populations.

Enhancing community resilience to mitigate impact of population influx

With the support of Global Affairs Canada (GAC), ACTED has partnered with the directorates of water, sewage and of municipalities to create the Kwashe Leachate Treatment Plant. The plant empowers the local municipal government in KRI to combat pollution and contamination coming from the landfill, thereby addressing the urgent WASH needs of local and displaced communities. By filtering toxic leachates out of local sources of groundwater, the plant produces clean water that is safe for agricultural use.

Improving local capacity to welcome IDPs

The creation of the treatment plant is part of a larger project designed to mitigate the impact of IDP influx on the most affected communities in Dohuk Governorate.  Since 2014, ACTED has been working to improve community resilience, expand basic service delivery and support social cohesion. By investing in community-level WASH infrastructures and strengthening the capacity of municipal authorities and key service providers to deliver WASH services in 8 targeted communities, ACTED promotes sustainable development and improved sanitation at the community and district level. Approximately 910,000 people, including IDPs and host community, are the final beneficiaries from the potential positive health, hygiene and environmental outcomes of this project.

Long-term engagement to enact sustainable change

ACTED has been present in Iraq since 2003, delivering multi-sector humanitarian assistance including WASH and shelter support, and has been working in KRI since 2007, focusing on capacity-building of civil society. Since 2012, ACTED has been responding to the Syrian refugee crisis in the region, with bases in Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaymaniyah.  ACTED is now implementing multi-sector assistance in response to both the IDP and refugee crises, including shelter, food assistance, camp coordination and camp management, child protection, information management through the REACH Initiative, and WASH. ACTED’s non-camp interventions are community-based, engaging with local stakeholders to inform the planning and assist in the delivery of support, with all its programming supported by established finance, logistical and technical teams.