The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)


Improving access to water services for returnees in northern Iraq

Rehabilitated infrastructure provides improved access to essential water services and supplies for more than 1,000 households.

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Following years of conflict in Iraq, water supply services have been significantly affected – including from damage and neglect to critical infrastructure. In the remote and mountainous Sinjar district, in the Ninewa Governorate of northern Iraq, this problem is compounded by a lack of surface water that makes accessing water for everyday use even more challenging. For villages in this area, tapped groundwater is the only available source of water supply.

Better water services for people returning home

Rehabilitated infrastructure in Sinjar is helping improve access to essential water services for more than 1,000 households. Watch to learn more. 

To support people returning to their communities in Sinjar, a UNOPS-implemented project worked to rehabilitate damaged water facilities and associated infrastructure. Funded by the government of Italy through the Italian Agency of Development Cooperation (AICS), the project included drilling two new wells up to 200 metres deep to reach the potable water aquifers. It also saw the rehabilitation of concrete distribution and collection tanks.

“With this project, Italy has assisted the government of Iraq in rehabilitating basic services in several villages of Sinjar, as part of our support to the Yazidi community in Iraq,” said Giulia Mazzara, First Secretary at the Embassy of Italy in Baghdad.

“Our goal was to improve accessibility and quality of basic water services in order to encourage safe and dignified returns to Sinjar,” she added.

The work helped deliver essential water services to more than 1,000 households in the Nia’ainia’a, Gulat, Garshabak and Hardan Sagheer villages.

“Improving access to water services in the Sinjar district is crucial to building resilience and supporting the post-conflict recovery for people returning to their communities,” said Muhammad Usman Akram, Director of UNOPS Multi-Country Office in Amman.

“UNOPS is proud to have worked with our partners to deliver much-needed improvements to the water stations providing essential water supplies to several villages. This project will ensure people can access clean water and contribute to better health outcomes – and help build a more sustainable future for over 5,000 people,” added Muhammad Usman Akram.

Previously, people in the Sinjar district had to purchase water for drinking and domestic use that was sourced from private, shallow wells. However, due to a lack of potable water aquifers, the water extracted contained high levels of sulfate, making it unsuitable for drinking.

The salty water in the village’s wells is undrinkable. It is not clean and causes diseases such as diarrhea. After the project, we feel relieved. Now, we have clean and sterilized water.

Mohammed Sayir - resident of the Hardan Al Sagheer village

To ensure sustainable operations of the rehabilitated water stations, UNOPS adopted renewable energy solutions. The project supplied and installed two solar energy systems for two wells in the Nia’ania’a village, and provided 12 solar panels and two submersible pumps to the Ninewa Directorate of Water. In addition, UNOPS trained the water facilities’ operators in operations and maintenance, supporting the longer-term sustainability of the project.

“We thank the organizations behind this project and hope that they support other villages that face the same challenge. If water and electricity are available, internally displaced people will come back to their places, homes, villages and lands,” added Mohammed Sayir.

The rehabilitated water facilities were formally completed in May 2023.

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