Quick Update

It’s been a while since our last update.  We’ve had so many events over the past couple of months that we’ve barely had time to get back on our feet before the next arrives, let alone blog about it.  As a teaser, here is a video of the recent Green Music and Arts Festival we co-organized with Nature Iraq.  Special thanks to Martin Turner for putting together the video!

UNAMI meeting

AUIS‘ Development Club members met today with staff from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) about collaborating in the near future on ways to address developmental issues.

We discussed a lecture series on a number of relevant issues including women’s right, water rights etc involving branches of the UN, civil society groups and AUIS students.

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.

Environmental March in Iraq

Participants marching through Sulaimani's Azadi Park

I dropped a grimy styrofoam cup into the burlap sack around my shoulder and took stock of what was going on all around me. Dozens of bikers were chatting as they slowly pedaled past me on my left side. A handful of local artists were holding banners and mock-hangman nooses nailed to 2-meter-long slats of wood ahead of me. A few children holding bamboo shoots scampered beside their parents as they picked up empty water bottles and cigarette butts off of Sulaimani’s main street, and surrounding the entire 200-person-strong entourage was a perimeter of stern-faced police officers marching in formation. A smirk slowly spread to an ear-to-ear smile as I saw with my own eyes the most meaningful experience of my two years in Iraq take place.

Dozens of participants rode bikes to demonstrate easy alternatives to fossil fuels

Climate Action Day Iraq was just one of hundreds of grassroots demonstrations that took place on September 24th, 2011. The umbrella organization which made the demonstration possible was 350.org, named after the upper limit ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere, past which the effects climate change becomes increasingly difficult to reverse, 350. Since co-founding AUI-S’ Development Club in March, I have been able to meet and work with dozens of local NGOs in Sulaimani working towards making their community a better place. When I floated the idea about an environmental march in Sulaimani out to my contacts in Suli-based NGOs, the response was encouraging; Nature Iraq, Development Now, Sulyon, Mercy Corps, and the Green Environment Group were committed to seeing this project take place.

Many of the participants held banners and slogans promoting environmental protection.

I’ll spare you accounts of the mind-numbingly inefficient trips back and forth from the governor’s office to the special police headquarters as organizers and I prepared official permission for the event. According to Nabil Musa, one of the organizers for Climate Action Day and a staff member of Nature Iraq, the process for getting approval for a demonstration has become much more difficult following the heated public anti-government demonstrations earlier this year. In preparation for the event, Nabil, Azar Othman from Sulyon and I scouted the bazaar in search of sponsors for the event. We were able to use dozens of planks of wood thanks to donations from local woodworkers. Local bike shops granted us reduced prices for renting 35 bikes for the day. Not only that but Zara Supermarket not only donated use of its garbage truck but also subsidized bamboo plants which we purchased for Climate Action Day Iraq participants.

It was inspiring to see so many groups of people work together on a project like this. Many of the development club students I had been working with for months took ownership of the issue of climate change in Iraq. A number of my students help prepare the banners and paint t-shirts before the event at Sulyon’s office. Amanj Saeed, the leader of the Green Environment Group wrote much of the initial proposal, which helped many of the organizations explain and fund the project through donors. Local and international media came out to film the event and interview participants, which were able to spread the message of environmental protection to many millions of viewers nationwide.

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.