Western Anbar cities see services restored post-ISIS
By Khalid al-Taie
The Anbar provincial council has restored public services in the key western cities of Anah, Rawa and al-Qaim, local officials told Diyaruna.
Several infrastructure projects have been completed at record speed, they said.
In Anah, recaptured in September from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), most basic services are up and running.
"Reconstruction efforts kicked off right after our city was liberated," Anah governor Abdel Karim al-Ani told Diyaruna. "Since then, we have been racing with time to rehabilitate all damaged services."
Power has been restored after new generators were installed, and the electricity grid was repaired by engineers from Haditha, he said.
"Water services in Anah were not heavily damaged and they are now restored," al-Ani said.
Five schools damaged during the battles with ISIS have reopened, he said, "two out of three health centres have been rehabilitated", and two field hospitals have been set up until Anah's general hospital can be reconstructed.
But the reconstruction effort "is far from completed", he said.
Bridges, in particular, are in need of attention, al-Ani noted, pointing out that the five bridges between Anah and Haditha were destroyed in the fighting.
Makeshift crossings have been set up until they can be repaired, he said.
Meanwhile, the success in restoring basic services to the city has "encouraged displaced families to return to their homes", he added.
A quarter of the 4,000 families who were displaced have now returned to the area, he said, rejoining the 10,000 residents who remained in place.
A "new security situation" is now in evidence in Anah, he said, as the army, tribal forces and police "have an iron grip on the city".
Al-Qaim sees swift recovery
Services in al-Qaim, liberated from ISIS on November 3rd, are gradually improving, thanks to the efforts of the Anbar provincial council, al-Qaim governor Ahmed al-Dulaimi told Diyaruna.
Local authorities have "cleared the streets of rubble and opened them to a steady flow of traffic", he said.
"We have managed to restore drinking water to residential buildings," he said, adding that efforts to repair the damage to electric grids are ongoing.
In the meantime, generators have been brought in to make up for supply shortages.
Around 12,000 students have returned to school in the city and its surrounding area, where 13 primary and secondary schools have reopened, he said.
A survey of damaged infrastructure also has been conducted, he said, and there are are hopes it will be included in the UN Development Programme's reconstruction plan in the coming weeks.
In addition to the reconstruction of bridges and roads, this would include the rehabilitation of the provincial council and other government buildings that were looted or destroyed by ISIS, he said.
Electricity, water return to Rawa
In Rawa, reconstruction is well under way, Anbar provincial council member Naeem al-Koud told Diyaruna.
Electricity and water are back and "provincial services teams are closely working with locals to open and clean the streets and fix the sewage system", he said.
Two additional schools have been reopened and equipped with books, stationary and school furniture, al-Koud said.
Another three schools and five makeshift schools are now part of the reconstruction plan to meet increasing demand for school places, he said.
Anbar's local government had previously formed a crisis group to manage and implement reconstruction projects in western Anbar cities, al-Koud said.
This group "has taken it upon itself to tap into local efforts to assist with reconstruction in the most needed public service sectors", he added.
He commended al-Jazeera Operations Command for the support it has provided for these efforts, in addition to its key role in providing security and stability, and its contribution "to bringing services back to the people".