written by Michael Wicker, WASH Program Manager Syria Response, Kurdistan Region, Iraq and Marielle Snel Regional WASH Advisor, World Vision Middle East & Eastern Europe Regional Office
Within the context of the Kurdish region of Iraq (KRI), World Vision KRI WASH is rehabilitating damaged and unmaintained WASH facilities in both health care facilities and schools. Since 2014, the Kurdish region of Iraq have felt a huge economic burden due to political instabilities and war. This in addition to a total of 3.4 million displaced persons fleeing from ISIS controlled areas. The result has been the lack of the provision of public funds to maintain public institutions such as health care facilities and schools. World Vision KRI is working in 16 schools and reaching a total of around 16,750 students and 6 health care facilities serving 938 people per day.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland funded rehabilitations in 50 households with people living with disability and also the rehabilitation in the Kirkuk technical Institute and the Azadi hospital. The government of Germany funded 15 school rehabilitations, while World Vision Australia, with support from Jetstar funded WASH facilities in five mobile clinics.
World Vision KRI initiated community surveys in November 2015 in which it became clear that disability inclusive facilities were needed in both public institutions and households. Consequently World Vision has provided with the government funds from Finland a total of 50 households with improved WASH facilities tailored to persons with disabilities. World Vision KRI also partnered with a local disability organisation to address institutional and social barriers. In a training event in May 2016, local partners were able to learn about these barriers, share success stories and collectively come up with WASH related solutions in public institutions.
We had the opportunity to visit the Azadi (meaning freedom in Kurdish) hospital where we got to see the rehabilitation of WASH facilities as well as hydrotherapy room. This is a seven story hospital taking on average 750 patients’ a day. The community lead initiative ranked this hospital as the most needed for improved WASH facilities. Azadi hospital already had an all-inclusive disability toilets and physical therapy room. The issue of clogged sewerage pipes and decommissioned toilets are now functioning again.
The rehabilitation WASH works will be used as a spring board for future operation and maintenance commitments for local government. In addition, these rehabilitation schemes will be used for advocating to local government to enforce more inclusive disability based on their policies for building codes. This entails there is a need for more public finances to be prioritised for inclusive WASH.
World Vision continues to reflect on its WASH schemes in a holistic manner, working closely with local government and partnering in addition to advocating with key local organisations and Handicap International to create sustainable WASH services that last!