Project #12023

Educational Support for Children in Iraq

by Japan Emergency NGO (JEN)
Water come out from the well!
Water come out from the well!

In August 2015, JEN conducted well rehabilitation in newly liberated area in Iraqi Kurdistan. As natural water source in many parts of the Northern area is limited, the residents depend on the deep wells to provide water that they need for everyday use. However, many of the wells have been damaged, making it more difficult for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their villages.

As a result, in September there were around 35 wells in the villages that JEN considered as ‘rehabilitation possible’. However, out of only 11 wells were functional. These wells are connected to a main water reservoir for the village, which can be 20 to 30 meters high. When there are not enough functional wells, they cannot produce enough water pressure to fill the reservoirs. Furthermore, if the reservoirs are not be filled, water will not  be delivered through the water network. In out of the six villages that JEN considered, we decided to work on two wells that provide water to a village that has around 500 returnees.

The reason, the wells are not working, is from a well to another. Some wells have a burnt motor from overuse, some have damaged pumps, and others just have damaged cables or switch boxes to turn the well on. Therefore, JEN visited the wells with a group of electricians and technicians to assess the damage at first, and then to repair the wells with necessary equipment. This time, all parts including: the motor; the pump; the cables, and the switchbox were replaced for the first well. It is also just that the pump was replaced for the other well. As a result, the wells are now functional and are able to provide water into the village’s water reservoir and to the village itself.

JEN is planning to continue the well rehabilitation work, in coordination with the other area and its governorate water department to prepare necessary water infrastructure for when people begin to return to their villages.


 Latrine Installation

The otherJEN’s ongoing challenge in Iraq was Latrine Installation in a mountain area in the need of better sanitation since the winter, which is expected high precipitation, is approaching. This situation is especially grave for facilities to set up for vulnerable people, such as the three health posts and the child friendly space in the mountain, as those of the people, seeking medical attention, are more susceptible to diseases that can be spread through improper sanitation. As cholera has been reported in various parts of Iraq, proper sanitation is one of the priority issues.

One of the major challenges for close 1000 families of the IDPs living in the area is to access to the proper Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) facilities that are culturally appropriate. As their lives in the mountain are temporary, their WASH facilities also tend to be temporary with their latrines consisting of a hole in the ground over a shallowly dug-up septic hole, surrounded by four sides by cloth for privacy. Such latrine can pose serious health risks as the septic tanks can easily overflow and spread to the living areas. 

Therefore, JEN decided to install pre-constructed latrines and shower stalls in those four facilities, which included the digging of larger septic tanks with more capacity. The work included a close coordination with the department and another organization that are in charge of the health posts and the child-friendly space, as well as volunteer workers in the mountain who dug the septic tanks.

With the new latrines, up to 120 patients and 250 children per day can have an access to proper and well protected latrines during their visits to those facilities.

Lartines being delivered to the mountain
Lartines being delivered to the mountain
Distribution water tanks
Distribution water tanks

In Kurdistan, the hot weather had been continued. During the day, the temperature reaches over 35 degrees centigrade with scorching sunlight. People living in the camp rarely walk outside after the middle of the day.

Water consumption has increased with the raising temperature. In the area where the camp locates, the ground water has significantly decreased, which has resulted in that water level of wells in the camp is getting lower. In order to figure out the current situation and consider the possible solution, JEN installed equipment to measure water quantity delivered by wells.

When the supplier of this equipment visited our office, the staff in Finance Section seemed to know the company president even though it was the first time for her to meet the supplier. I asked her why she knows him. “Everyone knows him because of his honesty” she said. It is like an old Japanese story, but it was only recently existed.

True to its reputation, this supplier’s performance was quite good and it was nice to work with them.Coordinating with such local suppliers, JEN continues to work for stable water supply in the camp.


Household water tank distribution

Water consumption has increased day by day in July with the rise in the temperature. Because of that, water scarcity was reported by some residents in some specific areas in the camp. Though the sufficient quantity of water to cover the camp population is being discharged from the well, water is not enough in some areas. The main reason was too much water consumption by residents in the camp.

Water discharged from the wells is saved in the reservoirs, which is located 2 meters high from the ground (see the bottom page of a picture), and then water is distributed to each household using water pressure. When the residents use water continuously, water cannot be discharged quickly enough to be saved in the reservoir. As a result, enough water cannot reach some of the households in some of the areas due to insufficient water pressure.

JEN’s engineers, camp managements and well keepers discussed several times and tried some means to resolve this matter. Finally, we reached one solution to open only one valve out of 4 valves to restrict the water way and increase the water pressure in a particular area. However, this method would cut off water supply in other areas for a certain period of time. In order to alleviate this restriction, JEN decided to distribute household water tanks so that residents can save water in the water tank during the time they receive water. Once the water supply is cut off, they can use water from the water tank.

JEN aims to increase awareness on water saving, as water consumption can be tracked by saving water in the water tank and using water from water tanks by the residents themselves.We also will continue to improve the living environment of internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) camp together with camp managements such as water supply.

A big water reservoir
A big water reservoir
Materials for hygiene education, developed by JEN
Materials for hygiene education, developed by JEN

JEN sent emergency response to one of the IDP camps in the Kurdish region, which accommodates approximately 13,000 individuals. In a crowded emergency situation, where people live close to each other, the likelihood of diseases developing and spreading quickly is high. Although each tent is allocated a private toilet facility in the Camp, which allows for greater privacy and better sanitation environment, some people still engage in risky hygiene behaviors.

One of the major issues many IDP camps in Kurdistan face currently is the outbreak of scabies. Scabies is a contagious skin condition transmitted by small mites, causing rash and intense itchiness. Scabies commonly occur with lack of personal hygiene. Although it can be treated fairly simply with appropriate medicine, the disease can spread very quickly through skin contact with someone who has scabies or even sharing contaminated mattresses and blankets. When one member of the family is infected, the whole family becomes vulnerable.

In the Camp, there have been over 150 identified cases of scabies for individuals ranging from ages 7 months to 60 years old. In order to quickly minimize the impact and spread of scabies, JEN is working in collaboration with the camp management, UNHCR and other agencies focusing on health, provision of hygiene kits, medicine and clean mattresses and blankets to families that are affected.

In addition, in order to ensure that people can properly protect themselves from scabies and other common diseases, JEN is preparing to launch hygiene promotion activities through volunteer groups in the camp.



Water trucking in Mountainous Areas

The majority of IDPs are living in tents and makeshift shelters in temporary settlements scattered around the mountain in the Ninewa governorate.

During the preliminary assessment conducted in January 2015, JEN staff witnessed the dire needs of the community, especially in areas of shelter, food and water. In particular, the need for water access came out as one of the most urgent priorities, as the location of water wells or water tanks that received daily water delivery was far from many of the informal settlements. In addition, there were many complaints regarding the water quality, as the communal water tank was old and rusty which often contaminated the water.

To alleviate the dire living conditions, JEN has been working to improve the communities’ access to clean water. To that end, in March 2015, JEN installed 12 new communal water tanks near the settlements and has been delivering water through water trucks. Each day, trucks deliver a total of 24,000 liters of water to around 1,200 families.

Water distribution monitoring is also being done by the community representatives to ensure that the allocated amount of water is being delivered to the water tanks every day. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the community and its representatives and the truck drivers, JEN has been able to confirm that water is being delivered every day and there have been no complaints regarding the water quantity and quality!


Tragedy of Halabja

In March and April, there are many anniversaries in Kurdistan. One of its anniversaries on March 16th is the Halabja chemical attack. On that day in 1988, over 5,000 people were killed by chemical weapon in Halabja located in Southeast of Kurdistan. Even now, 15 years after the tragedy, people line up in the road and take a moment of silence at 11am on March16th. During the moment of silence, even cars stop and only the wailing sirens are heard.

People in Kurdistan know much about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, considered as the similar tragedies as the one in Halabja. When I lined up, I was asked whether Japanese people take a moment of silence on the anniversary of the atomic bombings. Other than in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and in schools, it seems that there are not many people praying. Around 70 years have passed since the end of war, which seems like a long time ago for us. On the other hand, after Halabja chemical attack and even now, people in Kurdistan have been suffering a lot. They would keep praying on the anniversary of Halabja chemical attack which epitomizes the hardship they experienced.

Snowing on the temporary school buildings
Snowing on the temporary school buildings

Most of refugee children in Iraq do not have schools in 2014, this is because the schools far away from the camps. The other reasons of the schools in the cities centers, which cannot assimilate the large numbers of refugee students, are more than the half of Iraqi refugees in the camps of Kurdistan cities. The Kurdistan government prepares 66 caravans, using it as schools for the refugee students and 46 schools (caravans). Now, it still does not prepare the requirements like desks, blackboards, books, copybooks and teachers.

These caravans do not assimilate 15% from the refugee students in Kurdistan, we ask all of the humanitarian organization and the Iraqi government to prepare the enough schools for them.  The fact is they loss two scholastic years and we do not know how many other years they will be loss.

The government requires a manger of the Department of Education (DOE) to install 200 caravans for the classrooms of the refugee students and 20 caravans for the latrines. Now, still only 15 schools (caravans) are prepared at the suburbs. The Iraqi government provided 500 caravans for the other suburbs as 80 caravans for each of the DOE.

Although there is the lack of the school buildings for the refugee students, the international society must be aware of supporting the children with the facilities for the children’s study.

2.1 million people, from the refugees have very hard conditions in the hardiness of the cold weather, more than 100 children and babies dead in this winter.      


The Displaced Students


As we train teachers and students to raise their hygiene; health and environmental awareness, distribution of hygiene, and cleaning materials for them in schools covered by JEN project. 

We have noticed that there are the numbers of displaced students from other governorates. They have been enrolled in these schools. We have made a statistic about their numbers. It has been agreed with the authority on the need to provide them with hygiene like the rest of the students and add other materials to them. Where it was agreed to:

  • Provide all school administrations with 24 cans of lice shampoo to treat the injured students;
  • Provide each of the pupils displaced with the following materials (bottle of shampoo to wash their hair, bottle of liquid soap to wash their hands as well as large-sized towel).

The materials were purchased and transferred to the place where we arrange materials, according to the share of each school.

We met the school administrations in the presence of environmental education and school health official in the Department of Education (DOE). We talked with them on the need for special attention to the displaced pupils and distribution of materials on them. We asked them to tell us the date of Parents and Teachers Council hold in the second semester of the school year in order for us to attend, and in cooperation with the school administration gives parents of students some guidance pertaining to the public and personal health and pay attention to hygiene. We also delivered the school administrations CD disk containing items of training curriculum to be used to educate students and their parents in different occasions.

Also, subsequently we delivered school administrations the materials allocated to them; we visited the schools and participation with school administrations in distribution of materials to the displaced students and gave them advice concerning cleanliness importance and some guidance that raised their health and environmental awareness.   

This initiative has won the thanks and appreciation the DOE officials and the administrations of schools and student in turn; they gave thanks to the Japanese people in general and in particular to JEN.    


Distribution of Winterization items vouchers – Preparation phase 


JEN is preparing the voucher distribution for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). This voucher can be used as a payment for winterization items such as heater, kerosene, and blanket so on.

There are three ways to distribute items to people in needs. The first way is that NGO procures items and distribute them directly to people. The second one is that NGO distribute vouchers to people and people buy pre-identified items at pre-appointed shops. The last one is that NGO provide cash to people and people buy what they need at their selecting shops.

The best way to distribute items is up to the situation of area where NGO is working. For example, immediate after natural disaster the distribution of cash or voucher is not realistic because the most of shops and logistics are not working. As for IDP assistance in Kurdistan, taking into consideration that needs among families hugely varies and shops are properly functioning in the area, JEN decided to distribute vouchers.

The most important activities in preparation phase are the assessment/registration of voucher recipients as well as the arrangement with local shops.

For the assessment/registration of voucher recipients, JEN staff visits household by household and collect the information of household such as ID card, the number of family members, and the current situations, by using smartphone applications.

In local shops which agree to participate in our voucher scheme, JEN staff explains shop owners about the administrative procedures and terms and conditions so on, by visiting one by one.

Every time we visit people and talk with shop owners, we are getting more confident that this voucher distribution could accurately response people’s needs and could contribute the business increase in the host community.   


Internally displaced persons camp
Internally displaced persons camp

Iraq has been the theatre of violent internal conflicts since December of 2013. The northern regions of the country have been particularly affected by the ongoing turmoil and as a result, over a million Iraqis have been threatened into forced migration. Humanitarian needs in Iraq are immense, and humanitarian access in many parts of the country remains a challenge for the aid community. Although JEN’s commitment of educational support remains, we have been refocusing our priorities to address the new challenges emerging from the current humanitarian crisis. We are presently monitoring the situation closely and are in the planning phase of a possible emergency assistance response.

The displaced Iraqis are living under very difficult conditions. Many are taking refuge in temporary camps for displaced persons. Cold weather, hunger and lack of access to bathing facilities are among the chief problems identified.

With winter fast approaching – temperatures in northern Iraq can drop to as low as – 15°C (5°F) – many people are in urgent need of winter aids. Kerosene is distributed as a heating and cooking fuel, but in some camps families receive a mere 10 liters (0.25 gallon) of the fuel per month. The queues to have access to bathing facilities are extremely long. In some cases, waiting in line to take a bath can take up to 10 hours. As a result, a high number of refugees bath very little, which contributes to the spread of infectious disease. At certain locations, most of the refugees eat only one or two meals per day because of a lack of financial resources. There is also a shortage of medicines, and camps are generally very poorly endowed with health care resources. Tragically, around 1,500 babies and children have died in the camps since June 10th till now. Many diarrhea and catarrh cases have emerged because of cold weather, lack of kerosene and blankets, lack of food and overall unhygienic living conditions.

JEN will continue to monitor the situation closely in Iraq and aims to bring emergency assistance to the displaced people of Iraq as soon as possible.

While we have refocused some of our attention to the current worsening humanitarian crisis, JEN continues on with its mission of improving educational environments through its school rehabilitation program.


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Organization Information

Japan Emergency NGO (JEN)

Location: Tokyo, n/a - Japan
Project Leader:
Miyako Hamasaka
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Japan