Aid Projects

Rebuilding of Kandal Village in Iraq with Permaculture design and strawbale housing

Resettlement of IDPs in Kandal Village in Makhmur District through training of building alternative houses (strawbale), rehabilatation of their water system, provide basic livelihood elements for income generation; and generally educating the community on sustainable design systems and income generation using the science of Permaculture (Permanence in Culture).

Project Summary

Counterpart International proposes to initiate the resettlement of 34 families of internally displaced persons (IDPs), currently residing in temporary shelters in the village of Kandal Yarmija in Makhmur District, Erbil Governorate, Iraq. The project, IDP Return and Resettlement in Makhmur, will be accomplished through a three-pronged approach, one, the training of IDP laborers in the building of straw-bale housing structures and also on earth works that serves as water reservoir (small dams), two, the subsequent construction of straw-bale housing for IDP residents in this village; and three, provide basic training and techniques for income generation and community gardening. The project cost is 172,233$ in UNHCR support, however Counterpart International will pursue additional funds in order to continue and expand these activities, which promote sustainable, cost- and energy efficient housing for internally displaced persons in Iraq.

IDP Return and Resettlement in Makhmur will be implemented over an 8-week period, from July 17 – September 17, 2003. Based on the needs assessments conducted by Counterpart International Iraq in the village of Kandal Yarmija, discussions held with local government officials of the Makhmur District, and consultations with UNHCR, and experts in energy efficient housing design, Counterpart International has determined that there is an urgent need to provide permanent housing and a sustainable community services for internally displaced persons in Makhmur, in a manner that is cost efficient, energy efficient, sustainable, utilizes local resources, and is easy and quick to construct and establish.

Counterpart International has developed a comprehensive, three-phase strategy for the design, implementation, and evaluation of a high impact, emergency resettlement project, which will immediately respond to the housing needs of 34 families in Kandal Yarmija. This project will begin a process of local capacity building by addressing immediate needs for shelter and fostering community-led recovery as it promotes effective Iraqi implementation of straw-bale housing initiatives. Counterpart will provide full access to water, waste management and electricity and will incorporate all the elements and materials necessary into the housing design.

IDP Return and Resettlement in Makhmur is fully in support of UNHCR’s objectives to provide internally displaced persons with meaningful protection and a lasting solution to their plight .

Counterpart International will innovatively address three priority objectives is the design of the houses: one, to provide education and training for 34 IDP families in the village of Kandal Yarmija in the benefits of straw-bale housing versus traditional concrete “cinderblock housing” including cost efficiency (through local availability of construction materials and the use of community laborers), energy efficiency, aesthetic value, and ease of construction; two, rehabilitate and construct the communal water system for water distribution to the houses; and three, train the community and provide it with income generation activities and principles. Counterpart through this project will initially donate animals and seeds to plant. Animals will have three main benefits; food, feathers, liquid manure. The plants will have four sustainable functions: food, aesthetics, soil stability and noise reduction from highway.

Counterpart will ensure a safe water and sanitation system in put in place. The project will build each house a septic tank for toilets. The community will be provided and trained on natural biological system for managing their gray water (bathroom and kitchen waters). Several houses may stream their gray water through reed beds (a system wehre by plnats and shrubs filter the gray water and the secondary quality water can be used in the irrigation of orchards or flower gardens and such).

The activities will be undertaken in full coordination with UNHCR, the Ministry of Reconstruction and Development (including the local government of Makhmur District), and the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority (OCPA) and CMOC in Iraq.

Problem Analysis

The village of Kandal Yarmija is located in the sub-district of Kandenawa, Makhmur District, Erbil Governorate. According to a report by the Ministry of Reconstruction and Development (MORAD), the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein began applying a policy of “Arabization” in the Makhmur District in the late 1960’s, forcibly displacing thousands of Kurdish families from their homes, many of whom fled to the City of Erbil. Since the collapse of the Hussein regime in April 2003, approximately 313 families have returned to their original homes in the Makhmur district, and many other former residents have indicated their willingness to return .

The village of Kandal Yarmija, located 5 km. from the City of Makhmur, suffered a series of forced “Arabization” programs in 1963, 1975, and 1985, resulting in the nearly complete displacement of 85 Kurdish families. Based on research conducted by MORAD, approximately 45 families have returned to the village; this figure consists of 34 families who have permanently resettled in the area and 41 families who do not have shelter, leaving squatters’ camps every evening for the City of Makhmur and retuning the next day. The village encompasses approximately 110,000 donems (or 27,500 hectares) of agricultural land, and relies on the harvest of wheat and barley for the livelihood of its inhabitants .

Internally displaced persons in the Makhmur District and throughout northern Iraq are confronting a variety of challenges including: a lack of available employment, scarcity of natural resources such as land and water, and insufficient (or non-existent) water and sanitation systems. In addition to the threats to IDPs’ physical welfare and income, these groups must also confront a variety of challenges to the well being of the family and larger community. Displacement often results in a severe disruption of the community’s social network, and consequently, a negative impact on traditional, community-oriented coping mechanisms. In particular, current overcrowding in public buildings and abandoned military posts (as a temporary means of shelter) is forcing entire families to eat, sleep, and conduct all domestic activities in one small room resulting in an increased rate of social (lack of privacy/intimacy) and health (infectious diseases) problems.

Project Objectives

1. Sustainable rehabilitation and development of Kandal village in Makhmur.

2. Demonstrate a mini Permaculture site at the village.

3. Train the community on strawbale housing method other than cinder blocks and mud bricks.

4. Train the community on water catchments methods in the landscape

5. Establish a communal water distribution system

6. Establish a waste water management system by using reed beds.

7. Individuals from 34 families are trained on strawbale housing skills.

8. Train the community on production of organic food which leads to income generation and community garden management.


1. Personnel (Consultant on Strawbale construction, Project Manger, Engineer, Field Monitor)

2. Provision of livelihood elements such as animals and plants for environmental protection, income generation and community stabilization

3. Materials and Equipment for completion and maintenance of site infrastructure including WastSan.

4. Materials for training programs and onsite income generation activities

5. Transportation.

6. The IDP Laborers who will build the houses themselves at no cost.

7. Electrical Technician, Blacksmith and Plumber.


By the end of the project:

1. Kandal village is rehabilitated in line with a mini Permaculture design plan.

2. At least 30 people provided with training in basic concepts of Permaculture.

3. The local community trained on strawbale housing to build for future family expansion.

4. Basic income generation concepts and practices taught and practiced

5. Basic water catchment pools and wells constructed and village communal water system established.

6. The waste management system established and fully functional for the village residents.

7. Basic livelihood stock provided (plants and animals) to 34 families

Project Beneficiaries

The project aims to benefit:

1. All residents of Kandal village (34 families) through safe shelters, knowledge and skills acquired during the training.

2. All staff and laborers involved.

3. Low-income families who are able to take advantage of the project activities and outlets.


  1. Hi . Can you please assist in directing me to case studies of creating new townships in your area please. My architectural practive has been tentatively engaged in the design. Apart from permaculture also the design for culture, cost and construction method is of interest

  2. Hi. I’m very curious to know how this project has progressed. Is it still going on or has it fumbled to a standstill? Is there any way I can help?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button