Power on: A neighborhood transformed

How restoring electricity has transformed the lives of residents in Mosul.

Before the break of dawn, at the beginning of 2017, 20-year-old Suhaib slipped out of his neighborhood in Mosul with his family and neighbors in search of a safer place. “I remember the day we fled clearly even today. We were scared for our lives,” says Suhaib.

The ISIL conflict had forced over 180,000 families from east and west Mosul to leave their homes. Many of those lost their lives while fleeing. “I lost my father during the fighting,” shares Suhaib.

Though when Mosul was finally liberated from ISIL, Suhaib and his family finally returned home to extreme devastation. It was estimated that 10 million tons of rubble engulfed the city, equivalent to three Giza pyramids.

PICKING UP THE PIECES

Through strength and solidarity, the neighborhood came together to build back their lives step by step. “When we returned, my house was partly damaged. We helped each other by clearing out all the rubble,” says Suhaib. A resident of Al Nahrawan neighborhood, he lives with his mother, six brothers and their families. “But what was difficult for us when we returned was that there was no water or electricity. It had been completely cut out.”

The electricity was temporally restored three months after liberation but the power supply to the neighborhood remained weak. “We would only get power for a few hours in the day,” Suhaib explains.

It was not easy. This meant that residents purchased generators as a makeshift solution. It added an extra burden and cost to the families. “The diesel-powered generators would provide hours of supply but for 5–10 times the price of electricity,” says Suhaib.

RESTORING ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY

Close to Suhaib, in Al Warshan neighborhood, lives 48-year-old Amar Nafi, “I would charge lamps during the hours we got electricity so my children could study after sundown.” Amar knew that a more sustainable solution was required to fulfill the community’s growing power needs.

To support Moslawis build back their city, through the Funding Facility for Stabilization, UNDP rehabilitated the two substations in Al Warshan and Al Nahrawan. These substations serve over 60,000 people.

“We have come so far since liberation. Look at this substation! It was heavily damaged during ISIS. And now, it is back up and running,” says Mohammed*, Employee at Al Nahrawan Substation. “I am proud to work here and serve the residents of Mosul, ensuring electricity reaches them so they can do their day-to-day chores and run their businesses.”

To date, 39 substations that were destroyed during the conflict have been restored in Mosul through the programme. In addition, UNDP also rehabilitated Amar and Suhaib’s houses.

FOUR YEARS SINCE LIBERATION

The quality of life has drastically improved for residents in the two neighborhoods. “Life is different for us after the electricity has been fully restored. My children can study,” says Amar. Today, the cost of electricity is around US$ 20–40 every month. A price Amar and Suhaib are happy to pay for the quality of services received.

For residents like Amar and Suhaib, having access to electricity has eased the daunting process of rebuilding their lives after one of the most brutal conflicts in Iraq’s history. It has made enduring the Iraqi summer and carrying out daily chores more manageable for the families. More importantly, it has become a symbol of resilience, hope and solidarity for the entire community.

Four years since Mosul’s liberation from ISIL, Amar and Suhaib’s story prove that durable solutions such as restoring basic services is key to sustainable recovery.

About

UNDP’s flagship programme in Iraq, the Funding Facility for Stabilization restores essential infrastructure and services in the liberated provinces of Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din. To date, the programme has helped 13.2 million Iraqis access critical services and infrastructure, half of those are women.

Implemented through the programme, the rehabilitation of the two substations in Al Warshan and Al Nahrawan was supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The restoration of Amar and Suhaib’s house was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), provided through KFW Development Bank.

By UNDP Iraq

‏‏شعوب متمكنة، أمم صامدة -الحساب الرسمي لبرنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي في المنطقة العربية. UNDP official account in the Arab States