Readers of this blog may know that I am interested in tracking the humanitarian and services situation in various places in Iraq. Khanaqin is a district in eastern Diyala province and is situated near the border with Iran. Its main centre is the town of Khanaqin. A municipal office affiliated with Iraq's central government is responsible for the provision of services in the town of Khanaqin.
To learn more about the humanitarian and services situation in Khanaqin, I conducted an interview with the engineer Aws Ibrahim Mahdi, who is director of the municipal office of Khanaqin. This interview was conducted on 10 October 2020. It is slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: What is the number of inhabitants in Khanaqin currently?
A: The number of inhabitants of Khanaqin currently is around 140,000 people, excluding the subdistricts. With the sub-districts of Jalula' and al-Sa'adiya, it is estimated to be 300,000 people.
Q: How are the public services in Khanaqin like electricity and water? How are the sewage services?
A: The services with regards to electricity are very good but there is a problem of weakness of voltage and the hours of supply reach 20 hours in the summer and currently the supply is 24 hours.
Regarding the water, a very big problem, because the central project particular to Khanaqin was established in 1960 and the number of people did not exceed 30,000 people and currently the project is more or less out of services. The water it produces is very bad, and it does not meet the need of the town. Some areas it comes every five days for two hours. The supply comes from the al-Wand river, Baljo canal. Sometimes the citizen has to rely on the tanker and tanks to make up for the paucity of water. The sewage in general is acceptable because the nature of the land serves an area that is quasi-mountainous.
Q: What are the most important accomplishments of the municipal office recently and are there any other projects?
A: The services of the municipal office: you can ask the citizen. Two years ago there was nothing called a municipal office and by the testimony of the people of the district. And currently the municipal office is intervening in all the needs of the district and has been able to change the form of the town in all aspects despite the lack of financial apportionments.
Lighting, beautification, maintenance, establishment of roads and paving of 12 areas entirely, work on roundabouts and fountains, and the planting of around 5000 Albizia trees and conveying water during the summer season and supporting many of the offices.
The vehicle effort does not stop for a day and continues to transfer and sweep the mud and fill up the swamps for the areas where services of establishing roads have not reached them.
The environment sector continues to clean the town on a daily basis and without interruption.
And the towns organisation section: we have established special areas for displays of cars and a special area in the industrial neighbourhood and many residential investment projects and many business projects.
Q: What are the main challenges in terms of the services and humanitarian situation currently? How are you trying to resolve these problems?
A: The challenges that are facing us: scarcity of financial apportionments from the central government and the fatal routine amid the offices and reliance on old laws that must change: meaning laws from 1970 and 1983 and to this day we use them. And there are laws that are currently impeded and no replacement has been adopted, like law 222 which cannot be implemented, and law 80 semi-impeded.
Q: What are the offices of the municipal office exactly?
A: 1. Human Resources, 2. Environment Department, 3. Organisation of the Towns, 4. Legal, 5. Budgets and Finance, 6. Projects, 7. Planning and Tracking, 8. Gardens, 9. Vehicles, 10. Storage.