We began providing emergency food assistance to people in northern Iraq forced from their homes by the Islamic State group in 2015. Our member Mennonite Central Committee Canada worked with their partner Zakho Small Villages Project to deliver food to people in need. When Islamic State group forces were pushed out of the region, families began returning home. It was in this context that we shifted our response to focus on early recovery of livelihoods.
As the community leader from Shekh Shela notes, the communities of northern Iraq suffered greatly under Islamic State forces. Water services had been completely destroyed. Families and communities were traumatized from what they had experienced.
Through this project, families were paid to work on a community project repairing and rebuilding water supply networks to service the community. The cash allowed them to purchase food at local markets. At the same time, trainings and start-up inputs were provided for making yogurt, raising sheep and chickens, beekeeping and commercial vegetable production, to help families gain confi dence and skills to lay the foundation to rebuild their livelihoods.
Learnings from an evaluation of this project completed in the last year will be used to design future Foodgrains Bank funded projects. These projects will help people in times of crisis, while also looking to the future and starting the road to recovery.
“People in my village of Shekh Shela have been displaced several times. The last time was in August 2014 when ISIS captured our area. We fled to a local village and stayed for a month until our village was liberated by local Peshmerga forces….Our village is very poor. We have no water supply for agriculture, no income to buy livestock, and hardly any electrical power supply. We had to bring water from an unclean river and carry it all the way to the village. We all suffered from skin diseases because of the bad water quality. ZSVP has saved our lives with the water network project.”
– A community leader in the village of Shekh Shela, Ninewa, Iraq
This story was featured in the 2021 Annual Report. Download or order your copy here.