Save the Marshes and the Tigris River

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Karzan Fadhil. July 14, 2012. Save the Marshes and the Tigris River was an inaugural conference held by the Civil Development Organization (CDO) to raise awareness of local residents about the dams that have been constructed on the borders between Iran-Iraq and Turkey-Iraq. The conference was held after a long time of exceeding the international laws of natural resources rights and water laws by Turkey. Many non-governmental organizations (NGO)s attended the conference and showed their concern about the dams, especially the Iliso dam, which is a project being built by Turkey on the Tigris River without any convention signed by Iraq or Turkey. If the Ilisu Dam is constructed, it will inundate the town of Hasankeyf, which is an ancient town rich with its history, including its villages and heritage that have existed for centuries.

Now, due to the Ilisu Dam the entire region is at risk of being submerged with the completion of the project. One thing that is worth mentioning is that European countries have stopped reinforcing the project since 2008 due to the disadvantages and the adverse effects of the project on Iraq and the villages where the dam is built, but some of the Middle Eastern countries that Iraq calls them “fraternal countries” or “neighboring countries” underpin the project of the Iliso dam and show support for it.

During the Conference, Dr. Azam Alwash, the director of Nature Iraq, gave a presentation about the dams and the devastating effects they have on Iraq and the nearby regions. He stated that if the Iliso dam is finished, farmers in Iraq will starve and most of the agricultural lands in Iraq will dry up. Subsequently, the dams that have been constructed by Iran on the rivers that flow down the mountains in Iraq were discussed. Furthermore, Iran has constructed nine dams on the rivers flowing through the regions of Iraq, so since Iran built the dams, the water of the rivers has decreased dramatically, and most of the rivers in Iraq have been dry, including the agricultural lands nearby the rivers. Consequently, at the end of the conference, the members of the NGOs decided to take all the necessary actions and preliminary steps to induce the international organizations to stop Turkey from building the Iliso dam.

The Ilisu Dam


The Ilisu Dam is a project planned to be constructed on the Tigris River in Turkey. It’s expected to be completed by 2015. Since its inception, there have been many controversies about this project internationally; constructing the Ilisu Dam has reverberated among people adversely due to its disadvantages and its adverse effects on nature, environment, and preserving heritage. If the Ilisu Dam is finished, it will inundate the town of Hasankeyf, which is an ancient town rich with its history, including its villages and heritage that have existed for centuries. Now, due to the Ilisu Dam the entire region is at risk of being submerged with the completion of the project. Since 2008, the project hasn’t been reinforced internationally due to its devastating results and effects on the region by the end of the completion of the project. In addition, people in the region where the dam is built are obliged to evacuate their places and leave for other cities.

Consequently, environmental and human rights groups around the world have sought to stop the process of building the dam, and there has been much pressure put to halt the project, but the Turkish government persists in completing the dam. Nowadays, there have been many divergent campaigns to urge the international organizations to be involved in standing against constructing the Ilisu Dam, and many people have signed against constructing the dam because it is a huge threat to both people who live in those areas where the dam is constructed and the ancient history and heritage that have existed for centuries.

Click on the link to learn about a change.org petition to halt its construction: Save World Heritage on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia

Visit to Hiwa Hospital

Written by Karzan Fadhil

Hiwa hospital is a cancer patients hospital established in Iraq-Sulaimani, which includes over four hundred children diagnosed with cancer. The hospital does not only include Kurdish children, but also it has accepted various children from different parts of Iraq with open arms. Today, a group of students from the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) organized a visit to the hospital, and gave the children many gifts. The trip was organized by Jwan Farhad, a student in the undergraduate program at AUIS. During the visit the  students met the children and closely talked with them to make them happy. For most of the students it was the first time to visit the hospital and see their hard circumstance, but ultimately during their discussions with the children’s mothers their eyes filled with tears, and they sympathized with children’s parents.

In the hospital, there were many children diagnosed with cancer at different ages, ranging from one-year-old to their early teens. The AUIS students met a group of approximately 35 children. The children’s mothers complained about the cost of medicines that sometimes there is the lack of medicines, so they have to buy them outside the hospital, and they are too expensive for them because many of them do not have a good financial situation.

Despite the fact that the children are terminally ill, they became happy when they were given the gifts, and their mothers smiled at their optimism, so AUIS students tried to wipe sadness off their faces as much as they could. At the end of our visit, we talked with Kak Nariman, an official at the hospital, about the patients’ conditions. He assured us that a few of them have hopes to be cured, but it is the matter of time. Also, he hoped that our visit would not be the last visit to the hospital. Finally, he expressed his thanks and appreciation towards AUIS students for their visit, and he thanked them for the initiative that they took.

Have you been involved in this project? Please feel free to rate this project using the stars below and leave specific comments so that projects like this one can become more meaningful over time.

Development Club

Written by Karzan Fadhil on January 31, 2012. The environmental issues have spread over almost all the countries, and they need to be resolved as soon as possible. In Iraq, also this occurred over time due to the predominant use of cars and the lack of the accurate environmental education in this region. The necessity of the environment and the instinct of finding a solution to protect the environment led to emerging Development Club and encouraging students to commence their work at Development Club to protect the environment through this beneficial club.

Development Club is a diverse club located in Iraq-Sulaimani that includes many eager students regardless of age, language, religion and different perspectives. The onset of this club’s work refers to March 2011, when students passionately wanted to spread awareness about the environmental issues and cared about the abatement of the pollution. This club has had roughly 50 members, and most of them are young adults, who have strong desires to serve their community through this club. The reason that students have joined this club and collaborated with each other is because this is the most appropriate place for them to use their ability and physical skills. In this club, students experience and encounter new things and take a huge role to protect the environment because they physically participate in the projects, and they are a major part of conducting the projects.

Development Club has had many distinct projects since its onset, and its projects reverberated among people, such as visiting NGOs, the climate action day, hosting a conference with the United Nation organizations, and now the commission of Development Club is working on a new project called “The Green Music and Art Festival” intends to spread awareness about the environmental education. In fact, the existence of this club is so necessary for this city and people; particularly young adults because this club prepares them to protect the environment from the ongoing issues and spread the awareness about the environmental protection. In sum, Development Club beside its function that aims to develop the society, it concentrates on the environmental education in Iraq, and hopes to increase the green areas to make its community a healthier, a better place to live.

Have you been involved in this project? Please feel free to rate this project using the stars below and leave specific comments so that projects like this one can become more meaningful over time.

Green Environment Group

Written by Karzan Fadhil.  A few weeks ago, AUIS’ Development Club met with a grassroots environment-focused organization based in Sulaimani, the Green Environment Group (GEG). We chatted with the group leader Amanj Saeed about the organization and  some of its recent projects intended to spread awareness about some environmental issues that affect Iraq, such as climate change, global warming, pollution, etc.

Amanj Saeed giving a short presentation about the state of the environment in Iraq

There are roughly 30 members in this active, grassroots organization. Many of the members are young adults, and some of their strengths are their ability to communicate and their passion for environmental protection. This group is an offshoot of the Mercy Corps-funded Global Citizens’ Corps (GCC) program. The GEG focuses on environmental education in Iraq, and hopes to increase the green areas and make its community a healthier, better place. One of GEG’s most successful projects involved visiting eight primary schools to tell students about the threats of the environment in Northern Iraq. They explained for the students about many environmental topics, such as: trash art, global days, earth hour, environmental education activities, etc. In total, roughly three hundred students participated in this project.

A presentation given by GEG at Azadi park during Climate Actin Day

The most recent project the GEG was involved in was Climate Action Day, a march through the Iraqi city of Sulaimani, during which participants picked up garbage and raised awareness about the importance of environmental protection. Amanj Saeed gave a presentation at the end of the march in Sulaimani’s Azadi Park.

The GEG makes good use of social media as tools to help group members communicate and spread messages about their projects with community members. Feel free to pay a visit to their Facebook page. Hopefully the GEG will be able to continue its meaningful work on mobilizing communities to be aware of issues and take action towards improving the environment in Iraq.

Have you been involved in this project? Please feel free to rate this project using the stars below and leave specific comments so that projects like this one can become more meaningful over time.

Wadi Organization

Chatting with staff at Wadi’s office in Sulaimaniyah

Written by Karzan Fadhil. June 18, 2011.

Wadi is a German-based organization  in Northern Iraq’s Kurdish region.  This organization has been working on ways to solve problems faced by women  in the region of Kurdistan since the mid 90’s.  Its aim is to support and protect women’s rights as well as reduce the violence faced by women in Kurdish society.  Wadi aims to reduce the violence against women and help enable them to find employment in addition to advocating for women’s rights.

Many of Wadi's projects take place near Halabja, the site of the horrific chemical bombings in 1988.

For instance, wadi organization has a radio station in Halabja that has many useful programs for women. It spreads many helpful programs related to women’s problems.  Also, it has dealt with many problems faced by women through dialogue or through legal systems.  In summary, wadi is a non-governmental organization that has a strong and an obvious effect in our society in finding solutions for women’s problems including support for domestic violence, awareness of the dangers of honor killing and advocacy for women’s rights.

Dastan taking notes about Wadi's projects

Have you been involved in this project? Please feel free to rate this project using the stars below and leave specific comments so that projects like this one can become more meaningful over time.

Translations: