Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)

Volume 2 Number 1 (2010)

Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management 2010 2 1

doi: 10.3850/S179392402009000295

Reestablishing Peace in Kurdistan through Natural Resource Management

Nesreen Barwari
Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington DC, 20006, USA.


Recent experiences in many conflict areas have shown that reconstruction and development assistance can be used to support peace initiatives before a final resolution to conflict is achieved. In itself, reconstruction will not bring about peace, but it can make a contribution toward reducing the scope of the conflict and provide much-needed assistance to people who otherwise would be forced to leave their homes in search of relief and public welfare. Land, access to water are strategic prerequisites for the provision of adequate shelter, and other social services, and related infrastructure, and are also a way of breaking the vicious circle of violence and poverty for the poor, especially female-headed households and other vulnerable groups. The village reconstruction program in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq from 1991 to 2003 was to provide housing for internally displaced families and returning refugees and to remove all possible obstacles that might hamper equitable access to land, water for drinking and irrigation purposes, and better quality of life. The program contributed to the development of coordination between housing provision and peacebuilding through increasing access, affordability, appropriateness, and sustainability. It also identified innovative strategies to increase opportunities for community consultation. Through this article I intend to provide an insider’s view in a process that I was involved with during my work with various UN agencies and later as a Cabinet Minister in charge of Reconstruction and Development from 1991 to 2003 in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Although the timing and source of conflict may be different, the peaceful community-based approach with emphasis on localized decision-making that the article presents provides an enviable model of coordinated municipal development for the simmering land and property disputes in other parts of Iraq today.

Keywords: Post-conflict, Reconstruction, Community-based development.

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