Iraq: Back to the roots

 Economic DevelopmentFood Security,
 9th Feb 2021

Photo: Aziz Hassan Khudhir, a 47-year-old father and his family. 

More than six years ago, hundreds of thousands of people fled from the Sinjar mountains when armed groups attacked the region. At the peak of the crisis, more than 6 million people were living in camps and host communities across Northern Iraq. Four years after military operations ended, many families finally made their way back home to Sinjar and hope to restore their lives.

Three of more than 4.5 million people[i], Turfa Ali Younis, Aziz Hassan Khudhir, and Hassan Ahmed decided to return to their hometowns in Zummar. But life isn’t easy there. There are few jobs, fields and shops have been abandoned, medical care is hard to come by. And if all of this wasn’t enough, the COVID-19 pandemic adds another burden. CARE and its local partner Harikar are on the ground to help Turfa, Aziz, Hassan and other families to cultivate their own agricultural land. This work is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

And it quickly bears fruits – cucumbers, tomatoes and hope. Here is what Turfa, Aziz and Hassan have learned:  

Photo of Turfa Ali Younis

Turfa Ali Younis, a 55-year-old widow and mother of three children lives with one of her sons and his family in a clay house surrounded by 200 square meters of agricultural land: “I always wanted to work as a farmer, but I had no equipment. Getting this support to cultivate land for a living has made me a very happy person. I remember that my first harvest was a cucumber. Now, I grow many types of vegetables. We harvest more than we need and have not bought any vegetables on the market in a long time. We can even share our harvest with relatives, friends and neighbors. I am really proud of my planting site.”

Photo of Aziz Hassan Khudhi

From selling phone credit cards to cultivating his own piece of land: Aziz Hassan Khudhir, a 47-year-old father of two learned how to farm even though his right arm is permanently injured: “Selling phone credits cards used to provide us with an acceptable income before we fled our home. When we returned home years later, my children started supporting me in selling water bottles – but of course I made sure they won’t skip school. Two years ago, I got the chance to start my own gardening project. It has become our main source of income. My wife is hearing impaired, but she helps me out and this garden is our happy place. When COVID-19 broke out, I couldn’t sell anything. Prices dropped tremendously. But we don’t let our hopes die. I am planning to improve my garden soon. We will make it.”

Photo of Hassan Ahmed 

Hassan Ahmed has a tomato selling business. 10 kg are worth IQD 5,000, about EUR 2.80. By selling his harvests, he makes a living for himself and his family. But during winter time he often faced challenges in growing his tomatoes: “I tried everything I could, but the harvests were only half of what I expected. But then I changed my approach and moved my tomatoes to a garden closer to my home when they were still green. And I covered them with plastic sheets. With that I was able to increase my income by more than 85 percent. The support from Harikar and the idea to try a different approach has really changed my life.”


With financial support from BMZ, CARE and its local partner Harikar set up a home gardening project to support returnees to create a stable source of income for their families. Along with the distribution of agricultural tools, Harikar and CARE also offer trainings to the most vulnerable people on how to cultivate land. To continue to support vulnerable people from Sinjar who just returned home after years in exile, CARE and Harikar are asking for further support:

«All Stories and Blogs
Designed and Produced by ACW
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More