Trinity of water in Sinjar district _ Investigative Report With ICFJ

Trinity of water in Sinjar district

No water distribution system net, leaking of poisoned complexes into wells, spreading disease and dead estates


Nareen Shammo


First station:


(( I will lend around 30 million I.D’s ( 24 ,000 US$ ) to pay for a kidney  and conduct a surgical operation for kidney plant ))

This is what Elias Khedher told me during the last phone call with him.

If you look at 25-year-old a young man Elias Khedher  he seems very healthy ,but you will surprise when you notice his medical report ; chronic kidney failure , in last stage, severe malfunctioning ,which is 90%.

He is cowering to his abdomen: doors and windows welding instrument in his hand in his small shop, which is converted from living resource to a calculator accounts how much money he has to gain for his next visit to a doctor and pay for drugs.

Working hard for nine hours daily is not fair for a body swelling from time to another. For months he was taking allergic medications because of ill diagnose. One  night he was suffering from agonies and later went on coma, his father decided to transport him outside Sinjar district ,to AZADI hospital in Duhok city, there he discovered that he has a kidney failure,

Shireen , a mother ,who the kidney-failure took her away from her interesting and responsibilities, her abusive condition discourage her to talk to me, instead her husband Ismaeel, who lives  in a house built of brown mud was setting beside her decide to dialogue with me, he told me that Shireen’s illness has make us a miserable family; he depends on charities and money comes from the people in the town enables him to pay for a hospital and doctors in Duhok city which he has to go every week.

Then he sobbed and said: the doctor told me to go and do a death certificate for his wife if she once absented from her weekly checking out in a hospital:

Advising doctor

I went four times to the planting kidneys hospital, located beside AZADI general hospital to meet hospitals manager or the doctor in charge of Elias and Shireens cases ,but I couldn’t see them for different reasons. After a compromise I moved towards his clinic which is crowded by people sick of kidney failure and so. Accent and seeming of 60% of them were for a people came from Sinjar area (their accent is distinguished from others).

During the meeting with the doctor he ensure to me that Shireen and Elias have two choices first is to keep on kidney washing operation for a rest of their lives or to do surgical operation of kidney plant. Then he mentioned that, water is the main cause of a sort of disease like this if it contains sedimenting of minerals it reasons a kidney stones and if it contains germs and bacteria effects digestive system and stomach disease.   

Everlasting story

Elias & Shireen are not the only two persons underwent kidney failure, there are Ebrahim, Delvin, Najlaa, uncle Hassan and the child Hisham, additional to 22000 others . There are other diseases  such as hepatitis, stomach and urinal system inflammation, kidney calcinations, redness and infection of skin and eyes, typhoid, intoxication and brucellosis, also diarrhea in children.

Second station

The problem and biography:

Sinjar district or( Shingal in Kurdish language) well known of ( Sinjar mountain) located in north west of Iraq, administratively part of Nineveh province, Sinjar travails from lack of water like other parts in Iraq since last 50 years.

In the past people here depends on natural spring water for drinking and consuming for other purposes (domestic and agriculture), these water resources have reduced since people’s demand increased continuously.

In mid seventies the Iraqi government recollected every 6 villages forcedly in one town- in Sinjar – called compiler( small towns), those towns were built of mud and neglected till now a days. Who visits will find a lack of simplistic life necessities.

Water nets and purification stations:

There is lack of water purification stations and water treatment plants in most of the towns in Sinjar area,  one water purification plant exists in Sinjar serves the people live in Sinjar city only , usually  the water provided to the residents in other towns with no purification or treatment.

Recently water distribution pipelines have established in only two of eleven towns part of Sinjar district. Other towns and 85 small villages beside AL-SHIMAL and AL-QERAWAN localities (350 000 population) have been neglected. These water distribution system cover a round 50 – 60 % only of Khanasor  and Snoon towns that means roughly 80% of the population in Sinjar area is not connected with water system.

This shortage of water purification stations, expiration of the existing one and no water projects have been fulfilled recently, led the people to seek for another resources of water in order to survive ;( digging wells);.

In every house a well, and there is a septic tank very close to it, perhaps not more than 10 meters far a way. This short distance and wrong technical specifications, cause the grey water and toxic compounds leak into the ground wells which is a significant reason to spread disease and death.

Lack of water 

From other side, ground water is the only resource of water in Sinjar area. And it’s constantly oozing a way  because of different reasons , first lack of raining ,second  pumping the water from the wells continuously and the third is ill using managing  water resources. The level of ground water has been declined more than 50 meters in some areas in Sinjar in the last ten years. ‘when ever the ground water reduced in Sinjar, the risk increases” said Murad Ismael Hasan in his thesis( developing water in AL-Shimal locality) to obtain master degree from NORWICH university 2011  ,Murad is from Sinjar, resident currently  in the USA in Texas state, he mentioned withal to the difficulty of living in Sinjar after 14 years, if dryness of natural resources of water continued such as present.

Third station

Doctors and professionals

I have got very high numbers of patients who comes daily to the medical clinic centers for May2011 during my visit to five towns and several villages of Sinjar district,. The numbers encourage me to meet doctors and specialized individuals to know the truth of this calculation. “ most of Sinjar population depend on ground water in the houses for drinking and consuming, these wells are close to irregular septic tanks, this water absolutely is not appropriate for using , it contains calcinations causes urethra inflammation, typhoid, digestive system disease. also it causes epidermic and allergic diseases “said doctor Majid Khalaf Hammo primary health care sector manager in Sinjar.

Biggest problem in Sinjar is how to stop people using unsuitable water, the percentage of residents gain clean water doesn’t precede 10% of population.

“contaminated water reasons intestine inflammation, typhoid, and brucellosis also might cause crystals and stones in gallbladder and urinary bladder” said physician Adnan Muhammed Hussein health care centre manager in AL-Yarmook town, then he added we sometimes distribute chlorine tablets to the people, but it is not a solution for this big problem, they must got clean water through decent pipe line system.

Physician assistant Hasan Hayder Hajji “said that around 80% of the patients come to the centre are infected by germs came from polluted water.

Izzat Ibrahim (pathologist assist) told “lab. tests from 1st to 15th may 2011 confirm that two of three persons have crystals and 22 from 27 patient have typhoid or brucellosis which spread through contaminated water by specific type of bacteria, and diarrhea cases are tremendous, children are the group mostly susceptible to diarrhea due to preparing their milk with this water.

In additional medical reports says” diarrhea and dryness kills one of 40 children in Sinjar yearly”

 Health care center’s situation

Only seven of 23 health care centers in Sinjar are supplied by simple Labs. And they don’t have capabilities to check out and diagnose many cases, so the patients take sedatives to cool down their pains.

Sinjar general hospital has shortage in cadre, like  other health care centers.

Hasan Hatto physician assist. In health care centre in AL-Jazirah town ( siba shei khedrei) says: we evacuate most of our center”s patients to Sinjar hospital -45 kilometers far- because shortage in medical individuals and no lab

Murad Abdy –physician assis- in AL-Yarmook health care centre- has similar challenges declared that: there is 2 or3 childbirth weekly in the town, therefore we urgently need a gynecologist also sonar, ECG and other advanced equipment are required.

Fourth station

Testing samples of water

I took six samples of water from north and south of Sinjar to the Duhok environment office to be analyzed bacteriologicaly  and the results were expected : only one sample is wholesome and clean for humanitarian consumption.

Bacteria analysis found out big quantity of  (i-coli)- type of bacteria- in the samples, that means the water is contaminated and perhaps there might be polluted with viruses .

At the same time, I needed chemical analysis to declare if there are elements like (arsine, barium, cadmium, lead, nitrate and uranium), we suspect existing in several artesian wells in different places in Sinjar, but there was a complex procedures from the government and other related organizations, such as ,who sponsor the pretesting , then I postponed  it to end of October.

During browsing internet through Google website to find out causatives of bacteria and the size of water problems in Nineveh province in Iraq ,I found a report called ( the situation of drinking water in Iraq: causes and treatment)

By :Oday Fadhil Shafeeq a researcher and specialized in water treatment technical, after connecting with him via e-mail and phone calls, he showed his readiness for cooperation, I told him a bout the results of bacteria tests and asked him if there are jeopardizes of the lives of people consuming such kind of water? He answered: sure, consuming contaminated water has many risks. Diseases caused by contaminated water are backlog diseases, it’s effects either direct or indirect .

Most dangerous pollutants are bacteriological pollutants, it contains scatological bacteria causes many fatal illnesses if the percentage in drinking water preceded allowed limitation of bacteria in water. Pollutants can not be seen with bare eyes, that’s make process of consuming water easily for naives people.

Researcher Ziad Ayoob Sulaiman, mentioned in his search (study the quality of ground water in some areas of Nineveh province – Sinjar city ) puplished in international resources conference in Ukraine – Kharkov city. Mentioned to significant results of chemical analyses for 20 artesian wells in  Sinjar to evaluate the drinking water according to Iraqi standards and international standards announced by WHO 1995-(world health organization), the study explained that the quality of water in most of the wells is not suitable for drinking( numbered wells 5,6,7,9,15,16,17,18,19,20),but other well’s water is clean for consuming .here are the specifications of water in the study mentioned above according to Iraqi standards and international standards announced by WHO 1995:




The quantity of pollutants allowed in drinking water according to some standard procedures :

Description Iraqi standards WHO standards Wells which doesn’t comply with specification
Hydrogenic number 6.5 – 8.5 <8 1
T.D.S 500-1000 6,9,7,15,16,17,18,1
E.Cµhos/cm@25  1500 1530 1,5,6,7,9,15,16,17,18,19,20
(mg/l)  (NO3¯¹)nitrates 20 50  
(mg/l) (HCO3¯¹)bicarbonate   125-350  
(mg/l) (SO4¯²)sulphurate 200 250 5,6,8,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20
(mg/l) (CL¯¹)chlorides 200 250 15,16,17,18,19,20
(mg/l) (Ca ¯²)calcium 200 75 1,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20
(mg/l) (Mg+²)magnesium 50-150 125 15,16,17,18,19,20
(mg/l) (Na +¹)sodium 200 6,7,20
(mg/l) (k+¹)potassium 12  


Comparing the results of samples analyses, the water coming out from some of these wells is not good for drinking ,because of high level of negative and positive ions, also increasing the level of calcinations in ten wells. Other locations water is decent for consuming.



Fifth station

Unless you are living the agony, you couldn’t describe the situation or understand the size of the catastrophe.

When I visited Heteen town I noticed few persons preparing a small generator to pump the water from a well before their house, one of them erected facing me ( an old man ) he talked about their problem hysterically, he believed that I represent one of the humanitarian organization and said; we are barely surviving, no clean drinking water, no services, we never visited by any one in charge, all of them are lying in T.V interviews and they pretend they are helping. All the claims and complains we submit to governmental offices of Sinjar district, Nineveh province  or Kurdistan region never profit;

Al-qerawan locality doesn’t vary from Sinjar in it’s services level, it seems for first look it has been deserted a long time ago.

One of the natives there told us that : their biggest crisis is water, the whole area is neither connected with water pipe lines executed at former regimes before 2003, nor the current projects except few families, we have no choices , all we can do is to buy one cubic meter of water for 6000 Iraqi dinars for drinking and we use well’s water for other purposes.

Saydo Chatto –writer- said ;I  remember when I was small kid in winter and spring we were very happy when it was raining and they used to clean the roofs and collect raining water in big plastic bowls ,then one of the females leak the water through a white piece of cloth, not so many people realized that it is not suitable for drinking or may be they were poor and have no other choice to gain better water.

Many were ail and many were died, but non of them believe that water could be one of reasons, because they thought that water is goodness and blessings from God.

After I  heard so many people and witness the situation. I asked myself this question:

How pupils at schools quench their thirsty in winter and summer time?

I headed to Siba Sheikheder a ( Kurdish scool) and met teacher Hadi Ali ,who replies to my question saying : no water dispensers, the pupils here drink the water coming from the tanks on the roofs even in summer time, this is the situation in all the schools.

Not only the habitants suffer but everyone lives here , teachers and other officials :we experienced the water problem , we have been here for two years , there is no clean water for drinking , we can not consume water coming from wells, it is contaminated and causes so many diseases ,specially effects the skin therefore we bring water with us from Mosul city. That’s what Omer Basim said a teacher in second Iraq primary school for boys in AL-Yarmook town.

Another person for TEL BANAT inform me that the government dug up 10 artesian wells five years a go, but all are broken down now, by the time the people need water urgently.

Sixth station ( who is in charge?)

Who is in charge of all of this?  we bear the ex-regime the responsibility of delinquencies, then who is in charge of Sinjar district current  situation?

I started looking for an answer, headed to higher administrative authority in the district – the administrator ,Mr. Miassar Haji Salih  said ; the government produced tenths of water projects for this area during last nine years, which  is artesian wells in every town and village, also it has done water distribution system in three towns ,but two reasons were behind failing of these  project , first is the projects haven’t been tracked regularly by the officials  and second, no well-thought of- before executing them.

Then he added: digging wells is only a temporary solution for the problem, this area needs radical solution, non –stop water resource, therefore the best solution is to connect  Sinjar with ASKI- MOSUL pipe lines , we asked for this quest and still inquire but yet there is no serious responsible from the government.

Regarding projects plan Sinjar allotment from what they called “ cantons developing” the governor pointed to Sinjar share for 2012 : 8 billion I.D’s for Sinjar from 606 billion I.D’s allocated for Nineveh  province, and from our share we assigned 760 million I.D ‘s for water projects and (580 million I.D’s )for water resources section.

As a result of Nineveh brotherly list’s(Kurdistan alliance, kldo-assyrian and shabak) boycotting from Nineveh governorate council all the projects for 2010,  2011 have been delayed, hopefully we will start with 2012 projects after reconciliation and turning back the list to Nineveh governorate council. 

Sinjar water office

Engineer –Waadallah salim Sinjar water projects manager sees that deficit of finance and electricity and shortage of qualified persons disturb his offices function.then he added that Nineveh directorate of water has stopped many quests for repairing wells since last year, because shortage of finances.

Sinjar municipality

I access to Sinjar municipality thinking that it is a part of this case and I met Yezdeen Khalaf Namir manager on behalf ,but I found that municipality’s job is only the daily cleaning of Sinjar squares and they cannot even pursued the septic tanks to be built according to engineering regulations.

Nineveh governorate council

Mr. Qasim Salih Hasan member in Nineveh governorate council from -Nineveh brotherly list –talked a bout the disagreements between two parties and it is influences towards producing services in Sinjar, then he added: Sinjar area is a part of article 140 in Iraqi constitution which means that it is a part of the conflicted places, this lead the government to relay it’s projects.

The reason behind malevolence of service situation in Sinjar is deficiency of financials allocated from projects budget and defaulting from ministry in Baghdad. There are some projects greater than “developing” such as connectivity of Sinjar with Tiger river.- 90% of habitants suffering from shortage of water.

Then he talked about solutions and said “ we intending to repair some wells and dig more, but exemplary solution is to provide water from Tiger river for Sinjar and Biaj through a large water net, we cast the idea in the council and it is concluding to be executed in 2013.

Underhand pockets

In every station there was someone telling me about unreal projects have been done, some others done in poor manner with no tracking from the authorities. I looked for evidence or witness, but no advantage. I couldn’t find anyone who has courage to talk a bout these projects, I was about to lose a hope, then I found someone has documents confirm that, he started talking a bout details of some funding projects  and names theft 80% of finance assigned for QAHTANIYA project which was one billion I.D ‘s back in 2007 and TALQASAB water distribution system project  evaluated in 2 billion I.D s’. kind of investigation is going on in Sinjar, including representative from Kurdistan region government and following up from Iraq integrity commission.



There is no doubt  that water problem in Sinjar is very complicated, but a little type of scientific research and field studies with true estimation the size of problem, will become simplified to deal with crisis.

The closest solutions is the fact that governor of Sinjar Mr. Miassar Haji Salih and Mr. Qasim Salih Hasan a member in Nineveh governorate council .

With little of watchdog, accuracy,  serious working,  fastening to establish new water distribution system nets, build purification and treatment plants we will secure a surged cup of life for the people.


~ بواسطة narin shamo في 22 أكتوبر 2012.

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