Green Spaces are disappearing in Kirkuk 

July 31, 2017 at 9:26 am

A garden outsdise Kirkuk Citadel (photograph: Ali Mahmoud/ 12 July)

Ali Mahmoud

The green spaces in Kirkuk are disappearing fast as the local authorities fail to look after them due to lack of funds from Baghdad.  Kirkuknow visited most of the green spaces in Kirkuk neighbourhoods and bazaars and established that these green spaces and the trees have either withered or are withering.

Galawij Shukr, 65, from Shorijah neihgbourhood says she was very happy  when the local authorities turned a plot of land in her neighbourhood into a small green space where she could sit and relax but she says now the area is going dry. “I am calling on the government to turn its attention to these green spaces as they are withering,” said Shukr, a housewife.

Kirkuk has 3-4 square meters of open space per capita such as gardens, parks, recreational spaces and playground. The world standard is 15 square meters per capita.

A garden in Shorijah neighbourhood (photograph: Ali Mahmoud/ 12 July)

Sardar Ali of the Kirkuk municipality says the efforts to increase the green spaces in the city has stopped since 2013 and their efforts are focused now on preserving those spaces that already exist. The local government is also not able to pay the salaries of those cleaners that collect the rubbish from these gardens and green spaces and therefore rubbish is piling up. Out of 800 workers, there are currently 80 left to collect rubbish and these workers have not received nine months of their salaries. Baghdad stopped providing petro-dollar share of budget to Kirkuk in 2013 and this is considered one of the reasons why the municipality is short of funds.

The temperature in Kirkuk sometimes reaches over 50 Celsius in the summer and lack of green spaces has made the youths to flood to cafes. Halo Ghazi, 18, a student who visits a garden in the centre of the city but he says the green space in the garden is disappearing. Halo is also complaining about the rubbish that is strewn in these green spaces and asks people to keep these spaces tidy.

A garden in Kirkuk (photograph: Ali Mahmoud/ 12 July)

In May local campaigners in Kirkuk announced a campaign to plant 100,000 trees across the city. “What is important is to look after the trees after they are planted, we are trying to convince people to look after the trees that are planted outside their houses or shops,” said Mohammad Habib of the campaign.

As the green spaces disappear, Kirkuk oil wells continue burning in horizon large amount of toxic gasses into the city where oil has been extracted since mid 1930s.

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