“Kurani Ainkawa Neighbourhood Upgrade: Erbil (31/5/2012-31/12/2013)

Kurani Ainkawi, situated in the north of Erbil, is a neighbourhood of 352,000 m2 and home to approximately 14,000 people. Due to its high degree of informality there is a wide array of issues the neighbourhood is confronted with. Among these are limited access to some of its areas, an informally planned layout with narrow streets and in some parts there is no provision of public services, no infrastructure and no police. This resulted in a high crime rate with frequently occurring road blocks. Together with the poor housing standards, this in turn lead to a high vulnerability to fire.

There is also illegal subdivision of plots and illegal occupation of public and private land. This precarious situation makes private investment into this area rather improbable and the neighbourhood is also mostly neglected by government spending. Furthermore, the conditions of the neighbourhood pose a threat for the safety of the children living in it. It is dangerous for them to access the school and there is no safe playing environment. Finally, Kurani Ainkawi is lacking of social cohesion that could absorb some of the consequences stemming from its informality.

The UN-Habitat project aims to improve living conditions for the people of Kurani Ainkawa as part of a wider initiative for the Erbil Governorate. The project has successfully designed activities to address the challenge of informal housing and to implement settlement upgrading. Supported by UN-Habitat and the United Nations Development Programme, the Ministry of Planning and the Governorate and Municipality of Erbil will improve the Kurani Ainkawa neighbourhood in accordance with its master plan. The plan creates space for public facilities in the southern part of the neighbourhood and provides better access to vehicles and pedestrians. The project designs for a neighbourhood with basic services and recreational facilities including schools, a nursery, a kindergarten, a health centre, shops, parks, recreational space and provides for a multipurpose community centre.


The Kurani Ainkawa’s housing sector improved by supporting tenure arrangements;

Space for community facilities that serve the neighbourhood established;

A pedestrian friendly road network with trees, street parking and benches that run in parallel to the pavement constructed;

A multi-purpose community centre that includes environmentally friendly features constructed;

The community engaged and empowered and its capacity to manage the multipurpose community centre with the support of the partner ministries enhanced;

The lives of residents through organized activities improved, with a special focus on women and youth.

Initiating Durable Shelter Solutions for IDPs and Returnees, Phase II (1/4/2013 – 31/3/2014; USD 1,500,000)

The project aimed to support the Iraqi government in implementing pilot projects that provide IDPs and other vulnerable people living in informal settlements with long term housing solutions, and continues the development of the legal, financial and institutional framework.


Land tenure in Al Sadek and Al Sajid in Baghdad secured (approx. 900 households);

Land sharing model for redeveloping the informal settlement/IDP camp in Al Bahith Al Elmi designed;

Resettlement project Mahmoudiya designed (approx 900 families);

City-wide initiative addressing IDP and informal settlements challenges developed and intervention modalities at the level of each area in Baghdad proposed;

Training on planning and development of informal areas to GoI staff continued.

Durable Shelter Support for IDPs in Iraq (2014/2015; 7.85 million USD)

The initiative, funded by the Saudi Humanitarian Fund and launched in early August 2014, aims to develop infrastructure and public facilities including 5,339 temporary prefabricated shelter units for 32,034 IDPs as well as medical facilities and schools in three shelter sites located in Dawodye (Dohuk); Barznja (Sulaymaniyah) and Bahrka (Erbil). Prefab shelter solutions are considered as dignified and durable for fast installation and protection from harsh weather conditions. Additionally, due to the protracted nature of this displacement crisis, the adopted prefab shelter solution is more economically feasible for the medium and long term sheltering. This project brings together the expertise of different UN agencies to tackle the multidimensional challenges of the crisis, enabling timely, effective and efficient responses.

The Governorates of Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah and Erbil allocated lands in Dawodye (34.2ha), Barznja (3.1ha), and Bahrka (12.1ha), respectively, as temporary shelter sites. UN-Habitat carried out with the three governorates the site selection, preparation, planning, production and implementation of the shelters, while ensuring the coordination of site developments with its partners. The partner agencies: IOM, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNOPS and WHO, are supporting the implementation of infrastructures, basic services and social amenities.

Under the first phase of the project, 879 pre-fabricated temporary shelters are currently being installed by UN-Habitat in partnership with local NGOs, to be distributed to 5,274 IDPs based on selection criteria seeking to identify those who are in urgent needs among the displaced families. IOM provided 500 prefabricated temporary shelters in the project site in Dawodye/Dohuk. To develop basic infrastructure in the temporary shelter sites, UNDP is constructing roads, an electricity supply system, a water supply system and sanitation facilities. UNOPS is installing solar streetlights and providing solar lamp kits to each households. UNESCO and UNICEF are constructing schools. WHO is providing clinics and medical equipment and UNFPA is establishing reproductive health clinics and women spaces based on the shelter arrangement plans for the three project sites.

The respective governorates is responsible for maintaining the prefabricated shelters and public facilities that are installed as well as for providing services. UN-Habitat jointly with the local governments has selected new sites in Baghdad, Anbar and Karbala to replicate and upscale its durable shelter interventions during 2015. The agency is actively working on resources mobilization with donor community. UN-Habitat received generous donation of USD 7,850,850 from the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but the current funding gap for the next project phase is the current funding gap is approximately USD 32,500,000.

Enhancing Health and Dignity of Displaced Women in Iraq (4/1/2015 – 30/3/2015; USD 995,100)

The outcome of this joint project with UNFPA is: Increased access to maternal health and gender- based violence services. This was achieved through establishment of fully equipped maternity centres and women’s friendly spaces. UNFPA in collaboration with the Department of Health provides additional support outside of this joint program to ensure that the established facility is functional.


122 units of reproductive health (RH) units established/rehabilitated, primary health care (PHC) units, maternity units, women spaces and cultural centres.

Humanitarian Support to IDPs in the Republic of Iraq Including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq through Provision of Durable Shelter (1/3/2015 – 29/2/2016; USD 15,000,000)

This project was formulated to address a huge gap by constructing shelter sites for IDPs that are equipped with durable shelters, basic infrastructure and social services. In three governorates of Dohuk, Baghdad and Kerbala, where concentration of IDPs are the highest and the need for support is dire, the project aims at enhancing self-reliance and improving living conditions of IDPs through provision of prefabricated durable shelters and basic services in the shelter sites.


Institutional capacity of the targeted governorates and line ministries to respond to shelter needs of IDPs developed

Guidelines and plans to develop and manage the shelter sites formulated and adopted by the governorates

Selected IDPs in the targeted governorates in the prefabricated durable shelters accommodated (based on vulnerability selection criteria)

Improving the Housing Delivery System in Erbil, KRI (01/01/2012 – 31/03/2016; USD 1,086,724)

Kurani Ainkawa, the area targeted under this project, is located on the periphery of Erbil City, Kurdistan Region, with a population of 14,000. The area was known as a slum neighbourhood, with approximately 2,000 households occupying lands illegally or without official legal documents after a complicated history of expansions since the 1980s.

The absence of legal status of residents in the neighbourhood has resulted in the negligence of local authorities and a lack of investment in the physical and social infrastructure; hence causing environmental degradation. As the first comprehensive intervention in Iraq to upgrade an informal settlement, the project aimed to upgrade the Kurani Ainkawa neighbourhood with community facilities that cater to the needs of women, men, and children.

It has also supported institutional development and capacity building of staff of relevant ministries and Erbil Governorate on housing, land management and urban planning. 

Key outputs:

  • Squatters were relocated to a resettlement site with appropriate compensation and financial support from the government as well as the provision of public infrastructure, facilities and services based on community consultations and a neighborhood master plan;
  • Residents were granted secure land tenure and their land and property rights were ensured
  • Public infrastructure and services were developed such as community roads, sewerage and a water supply system, primary schools, a community center and park; and
  • Better traffic connections to Erbil City were achieved through a new street layout.

Local Area Development Programme Phase II (01/01/2015 – 31/12/2017; USD 2,101,048)

The Local Area Development Programme, implemented in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), aims to improve capacity for urban planning and implementation across governorates in Iraq, resulting in effective planning and higher budget execution alongside efficient service delivery.

The programme also seeks to encourage efficient communication and coordination between central and governorate levels, as well as pave the way for the adoption of participatory approaches in local planning and the development of strategies that will respond to the challenges of urbanization in Iraq.

The programme responds to the notion of ‘thinking strategically but acting locally’, and aims to enhance the key role of governorates in addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is achieved by embracing sustainable urbanization and the strengthening of their respective institutional arrangements, diversifying revenue and executing governorate budget so as to ensure effective delivery of services and infrastructure to the citizens of Iraq. This in turn will also meet the aims of the New Urban Agenda within the context of Habitat III.

Key outputs to date:

  • The Spatial Data Management Platform was established to collect and share data from each and every governorate for the Strategic Urban Development Framework for Governorates Urban Strategy, including GDP computing methodology.
  • Community consultations were conducted to design a Conservation and Development Plan for a Heritage Urban Centre in Basra City, which aims to enhance local capacity in managing urbanization, and public policies development and implementation in Basra, resulting in more effective planning of service delivery and targeted socioeconomic investments for the benefit of the people of Iraq.
  • Assessments conducted on GDP estimates, including social and economic analysis and mapping of spatial distribution of production, at the governorate level for the first time in Iraq; 
  • ‘Strategic Urban Development Framework for Governorates in Iraq’ that outlined demographic projections, economic analysis, infrastructure systems, resource management and most importantly the National Urban Strategy Framework conceptual approach, was produced.