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Mosul - Reconstruction of a city with thousands of years of history

A man stands in a building in the old city of Mosul
In the old city of Mosul.

In ancient Mesopotamia - situated between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris - a unique flowering of culture began more than 5000 years ago. Officials in Uruk - the first major city in history, about 250 km south of today's Baghdad - developed cuneiform writing. In Mesopotamia, the division of time into hours and minutes was also invented, imaginative minds developed artificial irrigation and the plough, and traces of magnificent buildings and art treasures can be found throughout the region. Over the millennia, the rulers changed: Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Ottomans, British... After a chequered history, an independent state, Iraq, came into being in 1921.

Mosul, the capital of the province of Ninewa, is located about 350 km north of Baghdad on the banks of the Tigris. In 2014, it was captured by IS; during the occupation and the battle for Mosul, buildings and infrastructure were destroyed, centuries-old mosques and churches were burnt down or severely damaged. Many inhabitants fled - within the country or abroad. Since the defeat of IS in September 2017, around 5 million people have already returned to their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). As of March 2022, about 1.18 million Iraqis are still considered internally displaced, with about 15% of IDPs living in refugee camps, 75% in other shelters, of which about 9% in emergency shelters (informal settlements, abandoned buildings, etc.). For them, the reconstruction of homes, roads, schools, hospitals, electricity and water supply is a crucial motivation to return home. But many still fear violent clashes - the security situation is volatile.

After the recapture in summer 2017, reconstruction work began. In cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Iraqi executing agencies, KfW is supporting the reconstruction of Mosul and other cities in the surrounding area. UNDP - through the Funding Facility for Stabilization, FFS - is implementing measures to improve living conditions for IDPs and the local population. The Facility has so far received funding of USD 1.45 billion, about a quarter of which comes from the German government. For the history- and tradition-conscious inhabitants, the reconstruction is not only about safe housing, functioning hospitals and jobs - everything that makes "everyday life" possible - they are given back a piece of their identity with the reconstruction of the university, meeting places and the old town.

University of Mosul

Buildings of the tradition-rich Mosul University were also heavily destroyed during the fighting with the IS. A total of 25 sub-projects for the renovation of the university campus have been and are being implemented, ranging from the central library to various departments, sports facilities, the theatre and the renovation of the university kindergarten. Currently, the University of Mosul is the second largest in the country; according to the administration, around 70,000 students were enrolled in February 2022, which represents an increase of 120% compared to the student numbers (31,500) before the IS invasion.

The university's central library has also been fully rehabilitated in the meantime: one of the most notable projects under the FFS in Mosul. The rehabilitated library offers students new reading rooms, group meeting, IT and exhibition spaces. It can accommodate up to 1,070 users at a time and will have a shelving capacity for more than 100,000 books. Other donors also contributed here: the Dutch financed the furnishing with bookshelves, others the rehabilitation of the stacks and the paving of the pathways.

The newly built university kindergarten provides day care for 450 to 550 children, and there was a waiting list long before it opened. The facility is intended to benefit female students and employees in particular, who can continue to study and / or work by looking after their children.

Housing and living space

Everyday life also means: safe housing, no longer living in camps or ruins. UNDP rehabilitates housing and social infrastructure. Here, many residents of the city also find jobs building and renovating houses, removing rubble and debris or rehabilitating public spaces. More than 65,000 residents can now live in renovated houses or return to their homes. Walls were re-plastered, windows and doors installed and water and electricity laid. At the same time, jobs were created for almost 14,000 people, who can now spend money on food, medical care and education. Not only in Mosul, but also in neighbouring towns.

Secure medical care

During the fighting with IS, the health infrastructure in Mosul was severely destroyed. With the rehabilitation of the Ibn Al-Atheer Children's Hospital, up to 1,250 patients per day can be provided with significantly improved medical services according to international standards. Despite massive damage and destruction, the children's hospital was partially operational and is currently the only children's hospital in Mosul. Therefore, not only the approximately 600,000 people in East Mosul will benefit from its rehabilitation, but also other parts of the population, according to UNDP estimates at least 1.2 million people in Greater Mosul in the medium term. In addition, the city's oncology clinic is being rebuilt on the heavily destroyed Al Shifa Medical Complex. Once construction is completed, the clinic will have two additional floors and a total size of 17,000m², providing more capacity for medical staff and equipment and doubling the number of beds. It is expected that after the rehabilitation measures, the clinic will be able to serve at least 135,000 patients annually with significantly improved medical services according to international standards.

Employment as the economy recovers

In the areas liberated from IS - and also in Mosul - extensive infrastructure projects have been implemented by UNDP, enabling the population to access basic services such as water, electricity, education and mobility. Community shops, a vegetable market, and 40 repair workshops for electrical appliances and mobile phones have been built, and equipment and materials have been procured for a sewing and handicrafts factory for women.

Thousands of jobs were created, some of them temporary. Women were given special consideration: for example, women-headed households received financial support and means of production. In addition, vocational training was offered, including business training specifically for women.

KfW Development Bank has been supporting the reconstruction and stabilisation of Iraq on behalf of the German Federal Government since 2016 with a portfolio of more than EUR 1.37 billion. In addition to its cooperation with UNDP and other UN organisations, KfW is implementing a EUR 500 million loan from the Federal Foreign Office to rebuild basic supply infrastructure in areas formerly occupied by the Islamic State. In addition, Iraq has been one of the BMZ's "Nexus and Peace" partner countries since 2020, with which long-term bilateral development goals are being pursued.