Volunteers have been hard at work to repair and rebuild damaged homes in western Mosul so that displaced residents can return, local officials said.
The western side of the Ninawa province city sustained severe damage during last year's battles to oust the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), and funding shortfalls have delayed government reconstruction projects.
"The campaign aims to rebuild 1,000 damaged homes out of about 11,000 housing units destroyed in various parts of western Mosul," campaign co-ordinator Diaa al-Tahir told Diyaruna.
The rebuilding effort will focus on the homes of low-income families who have lost their breadwinners, he said.
"These families have become a burden on the Mosul community, as they have created a real housing crisis in less-damaged eastern Mosul," he said, noting that this spurred campaign organisers to seek "radical solutions to this crisis".
In the first phase of the campaign, volunteers rebuilt 25 homes in the Bab Laksh area, with financial backing from residents in the province who can afford to contribute, al-Tahir said.
They have been focusing initially on less-damaged areas, he said, including Bab Laksh and Bab Jadid, and avoiding areas where unexploded mines and even the bodies of ISIS fighters are known to remain amid the rubble.
Helping residents return
"The initiative’s main objective is to help people return to their homes and end their displacement," said Yasser al-Mosuli, a member of the initiative’s executive committee.
This means volunteers are focusing their attention on homes that are less than 50% damaged, he said, so they can rebuild the largest number of homes possible at the lowest cost.
"In most cases, the cost of rehabilitating one home does not exceed one million Iraqi dinars ($800)," he said, noting that in cases where the cost runs higher, donors will be asked to contribute an additional amount.
The second phase will see volunteers taking on the work of rebuilding 50 more homes in the Bab Jadid district, he added.
Rebuilding efforts will not wait
Mosul governor Zuhair al-Araji praised the volunteer effort, while bemoaning the federal government's delay in the release of financial compensation to city residents whose homes suffered damage in the fighting.
These residents are still waiting for compensation, he told Diyaruna, even though they have "completed their requests for compensation and damage disclosure statements detailing the extent of the damage to their homes".
Ninawa's local government has done what is required of it in terms of restarting operations at service departments and hiring staff, he said.
With federal funds slow to arrive, "many citizens did not wait for the government rebuilding campaign to start, and have begun rebuilding their homes and shops themselves", he said.
This shows "their determination to revive their city" and reflects the social cohesion among Mosul society, he said, commending the efforts of both individual residents and campaign volunteers, and donors who support them.