I am in Basra for the fourth time, this time to support local activists and to facilitate a series of seminar in four different Iraqi provinces to raise awareness about water issues in Iraq. The seminars are part of an advocacy campaign against the construction of construction of a mega dam project in the stretches of the Tigris River in Turkey; Ilisu Dam. Interestingly, Basra is the only Iraqi province where the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates flow. They meet in Qurna, where they form the Shatt al Arab before entering to the Gulf. Basra is also the most affected by upstream dam projects in terms of quantity and quality of water.
One of the main topics of discussion in Basra is electricity. Almost like an obsession, everyone talks about electricity. Are we on the national grid, “watani” or on the generator, “mualid”? What we simply call electricity is divided into 2 parallel systems: national electricity running for 2 hours and a system of private generators that run 4-6 hours. There is electricity for 6 hours a day, or less and the rest of the time the electricity is supplied privately, for those who can afford it. This is particularly critical in the summer, when the temperature is unbearable (130 degrees Fahrenheit). The obsession is for a reason! This problem has affected the lives of Iraqis for the past 10 years. They have to pay vast amounts of money to buy amperes from the private generators.
|Some pictures from my trip to Basra|