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Success in Iraq: empowering communities

August 2012

REACH, one of Christian Aid's partner organisations in Iraq, inspire and empower communities to demand their rights to essential services and provisions from the local authorities.

REACH collaborates with communities in northern Iraq, encouraging them to organise themselves and teaching them how to engage with the local civil authorities to ensure their rights and needs are considered.

REACH: empowering local communities

This can mean anything from lobbying for road building and water management, to delivering livestock vaccination supplies direct to farmers. 

This is important as it allows communities to understand their own rights and live in dignity, without relying on external support. 

REACH empowers local people by equipping them with the skills needed to impel their government to take action.

Stories of success: Anwar Ismail Omar

Anwar Ismail Omar, a 44-year-old farmer and campaigner from Iraq

Anwar Ismail Omar

Anwar Ismail Omar is one of REACH’s success stories. The 44-year-old famer lives in a mud house with his wife and seven children in the village of Komtal, Erbil. He supports his family from his land.

The village, home to 193 people and 28 families, has limited access to basic services (including a clean water supply).

Many families have been forced to leave their homes in search of a better future.

Conflict in Iraq

During the early 1991 uprising, Anwar’s village was destroyed by withdrawing Iraqi troops. Since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, millions of Iraqis have been displaced from their homes.

Poor security and lack of even basic services in many parts of the country have continued to affect millions of people.

Living below the poverty line

Outside Baghdad more than 30% of the population do not have access to drinking water.

More than 20% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.

But it's not for lack of means. One main cause of the deprivation in Anwar's area is a lack of government transparency, and their failure to distribute their ample resources fairly.

Challenging corruption

Christian Aid has been working with REACH to challenge corruption for 16 years.

Community-based organisations

From the outset, Anwar was a natural leader, passionately enthusiastic about his community.

He inspired a group of villagers to form a community-based organisation (CBO), which presses the government for fair treatment.

His participation with REACH equipped him with the tools he needs to negotiate successfully with authorities on behalf of his community.

Their most recent successes have been securing electricity and education services for the village. These resources that will dramatically improve quality of life for everyone.

His CBO also acts as a council to resolve many difficulties encountered by the community.

Reaching other villages

'Marginalised communities... are now much more aware of the processes they can use to improve their lives.'

Having found success in their own village, the group seeks to make other marginalised neighbours aware of the process by which they can improve their own situation.

Anwar actively disseminates information about people’s rights, work which has seen 60% more people now engage with their local authorities.

Anwar says: '[Thanks to this work], marginalised communities – who were previously unaware of the monitoring and evaluation of government plans - are now much more aware of the processes they can use to improve their lives.

'However, we are still fighting for better public services and just fund allocation according to communities' needs.'

The group is encouraged by their success but remains hungry for further justice.


Please share Anwar's story on Facebook and Twitter using the links below or donate to help us support more communities like Anwar's.



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