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Iraq: the ICRC brings a smile to the face of Abu Daoud and other families in Rabiah camp

23-11-2011 Feature

Muhsin Dawlah, 76 years of age, known as “Abu Daoud” since tradition normally requires men to be called by a nickname rather than by their first name, lives in a modest and muddy shelter with his wife and four daughters, aged from 7 to 14 years, in a camp for displaced persons in a dilapidated area of the Rabiah district in the northern Iraqi province of Ninewa.

Muhsin Dawlah was originally from Al-Bi’aj, a semi-desert area to the west of Mosul near the Syrian border from which some families were displaced after it was struck by drought in 2008. These included Abu Daoud’s family who moved to the Rabiah district.

The camp in which Abu Daoud found refuge lacked all the basic amenities that the displaced persons expected to find in order to lead a normal modest life. The lack of water, in particular, posed a major challenge to the families in the camp.

Contrary to the expectations of those who recently decided to settle in the camp, it had no water supply and, in order to obtain the water that they needed, most of them had to spend from 50,000 to 75,000 dinars per month, which was a large amount of money for poor displaced families.

An important saving

According to Mr. Abu Salih, the camp’s headman, 95% of the families who settled in this camp had been displaced from the districts of Al-Bi’aj, Tal Afar and Zamar. He went on to say that they had sought refuge in Rabiah because of the security situation, threats and drought, in addition to poverty. Before the implementation of the water supply project, the families with a small income used to buy water for which each family had to pay at least 50,000 dinars per month, while those without money had to rely on polluted water that they brought from agricultural irrigation channels.

Abu Daoud and the other families who could not afford the high costs of water found themselves forced to use water from the irrigation channels in the vicinity which they shared with dozens of dogs and other animals. Abu Daoud and his family, like the others, were exposed to numerous diseases, and particularly typhoid and dysentery, because of the polluted water.

It is noteworthy that Abu Daoud is blind and has no male children. His daughters were too young to help their mother, who used to make bread to sell to the neighbours. The entire family was dependent on a modest monthly allowance of about 75,000 dinars that they received from a social welfare network.

In 20011, the ICRC carried out a project to pipe water to the dwellings of 250 displaced families living in the camp. Abu Daoud and his family were among the project’s beneficiaries and now enjoy access to clean drinking water. His wife and daughters no longer need to carry containers filled with polluted water on their shoulders.

Abu Daoud says: “The water tap in my house has completely changed our situation. We are all grateful to the ICRC for bringing clean water to the place where we live”.

Abu Daoud and his daughters now enjoy clean water. Sitting beside the tap in his home that has brought a smile to his face, he goes on to say: “We now also have water to bathe in. This is a blessing of which we must take good care”.

The project meets 80% of the needs of the displaced families living in the camp. Although there are some families who are not yet benefiting there from, at least they do not have to buy water from tankers since those who are effectively benefiting, such as Abu Daoud, allow the families who are not connected to the water supply to share the water from their taps. In this connection, Eng. Muhammad Khalaf, the director of the water supply network in Rabiah, expresses his gratitude to the ICRC for its humanitarian response in supplying drinking water to those who need it in this area. This major task undertaken by the ICRC has helped to alleviate the suffering of the displaced persons here”.

Mr. Abu Marzouq, one of the project’s beneficiaries, adds: “We are grateful to the ICRC for supplying us with water. There used to be arguments and disputes among the families because of the water problem, but this problem has now been solved and, by the grace of God, there are no longer any arguments or disputes”.



Rabiah, Iraq. The water supply project implemented by the ICRC in the camp for displaced persons in the Rabiah district.
© ICRC / F. Mohammad


Rabiah, Iraq. Abu Daoud and two of his daughters, happy to have water supply in the courtyard of their home in the camp.
© ICRC / F. Mohammad


Rabiah, Iraq. An ICRC staff member talking to Abu Daoud when water was first piped to his home.
© ICRC / F. Mohammad