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Irak WASH Aida Burnett-Cargill pour Action contre la Faim



Detecting Water Leaks in Iraq

Today, due to climate change effects and resulting cross-border tensions, the water level in the Tigris river drops drastically which may further affect the largest cities throughout the country. According to the latest report from the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration, Iraq faces an unprecedented water crisis, which might have further implications at the humanitarian, socioeconomic and security levels. In addition, increasing temperatures and reduced annual rainfall make the situation even more critical.

In the city of Dohuk, in the junction of the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Syria within the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, drinking water depends much on the river. The city is home to more than 1 million people and expands rapidly with new districts and its suburbs adding a further burden on the city’s outdated water infrastructure. In Dohuk, Action Against Hunger coordinates a number of emergency and development projects aimed at maintaining sustainable levels of water resources.


Water Leaks Can Harm Infrastructure and Public Health


The challenge of water management and conservation is widespread in the region. A great number of water supply is lost due to visible and underground water leaks. Obsolete water supply network can further affect water quality and even cause public health risks as contaminants can enter the pipe through leaks openings.

In Dohuk, an estimated 40% of all water passing through the city network is simply lost through breaks in the pipeline and yet repair works are often inefficient and expensive due to difficulties pinpointing the exact location of the leaks. As part of local Water Management Strategy and in collaboration with Aquassistance, ACF mission in Iraq elaborated a ‘Leak Detection’ innovative project aimed at reducing water losses in the Dohuk city water distribution network and ensuring equal access to water for all. Benefits of precise leak detection are far reaching as it allows to save more water, energy and reparation costs, and consequently to reduce risk of contamination and potential property damage.

“We worked hand in hand with local engineers and Aquassistance’s technical experts to transfer knowledge, technology and best practices in detecting, mapping, prioritizing and finally repairing leakages in the system. The scale of the problem is huge and equally complex. However, collective action, increased funding and awareness campaign among the public at large will have a positive impact over time”, explained Asmaa Farooq, Program Manager in Water and Sanitation at Action Against Hunger in Dohuk.

Irak WASH Aida Burnett-Cargill pour Action contre la Faim
Irak WASH Aida Burnett-Cargill pour Action contre la Faim
Irak WASH Aida Burnett-Cargill pour Action contre la Faim
Irak WASH Aida Burnett-Cargill pour Action contre la Faim

Small Steps, Big Changes


The ‘Leak Detection’ project lasted 6 months and tackled the lack of local knowledge of leak detection equipment. It was implemented through consistent field-training of ten local technicians and engineers from the Directorate of Water (DoW) and four ACF experts in water and sanitation. Following training, four leak detection devices were granted to the DoW. These leak detection devices are used to hear the acoustic vibrations of the water flow which help locate precisely leakages and facilitate network repairs. This innovative methodology employed by DoW with support from ACF and Aquassistance allowed to identify and rehabilitate 59 leakages in four neighbourhoods of Malta, Grebase, Nizare and Baroshke.

Graduated in 2008 from Dohuk University, Mevan Ahmed Haji has been working since as water resource engineer. Now he runs one of the four maintenance departments in Malta neighborhood and took part in ACF and Aquassistance training on leak detection.

“Before we dealt only with visible leakages and could spent up to 3 hours trying to find its exact location. Now, thanks to the training and new equipment, we can fix it within one hour and expand the coverage of our interventions in the district. I am sure that all over Iraq we still use old practices and outdated equipment. Such projects would definitely help local technicians and engineers to improve detection interventions and repair leakages faster”.

In Iraq, an estimated 8.7 million people remain in need of humanitarian or protection assistance, especially among the internally displaced persons, hosting communities, returnees, and Syrian refugees. As water levels are decreasing at unprecedented rate all over the country, it could result in further displacement of the population creating more needs in terms of access to safe water and sanitation. For Action Against Hunger, there is an urgent need to support and to empower local authorities through implementation of innovative leak detection techniques in other cities in Iraq.

Action Against Hunger restarted activities in Iraq in 2013, with continued support of Syrian refugees, internally displaced people and hosting communities. Our teams favour a multisectoral approach, combining all our fields of expertise such as Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, Food Security and Mental Health. Access to water and sanitation are recognized by the United Nations as human rights. Help us to make it real.

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