Anbar is the largest and one of the most sparsely populated governorates in Iraq. Under ISIL occupation, the region suffered greatly for well over three years. During which, many lives were lost, businesses closed, and key infrastructure destroyed. Among them were roads and bridges that served as linkage points to and from cities in the region. They were blown up during the conflict, cutting off the movement of people.
“I was heartbroken when I returned with my family. We were met with absolute devastation. We found almost everything destroyed, including bridges, roads, schools, water connections and electricity supply,” says Louay Mounadi Ali, 42, a resident of Al Qaim.
Engineers who are behind the rehabilitation of the bridge on Ali Sulaiman water channel in Al Karma. Photo: UNDP Iraq
Supporting Anbaris rebuild, through the Funding Facility for Stabilization, UNDP has rehabilitated over 2,630 key public facilities, such as roads, bridges, water treatment plants, electricity networks, schools and hospitals. Of which, 17 bridges in Al Qaim, Al Karma, Fallujah and Ramadi were rebuilt. For a governorate the size of Anbar, it has played a key role in reconnecting residents and reviving vital trade routes.
The Al Rommana bridge, situated along the Euphrates River in Al Qaim, was left severely damaged during ISIL. “The bridge is a vital link between western Anbar and the rest of the governorate. For most Iraqis living in the region, it links them to the main hospital and municipality facilities in Al Qaim city. After the damage caused by ISIL, people would travel by foot or use boats, risking their safety to access facilities,” adds Louay.
The Al Rommana bridge is now up and running. It is expected to serve over 75,000 residents living in and around Al Qaim. On average, 11,500 people cross the bridge every day. “Now, I see people moving freely and safely across the region. This has created a sense of community and stability for us as residents,” says Louay.
On the other side of Anbar, the Ali Sulaiman bridge in Al Karma, the Al Shehabi bridge in Fallujah, the Thaileb and Al Fokanee bridges in Ramadi were also rehabilitated, benefitting over 50,500 people.
‘’The rehabilitation of Ali Sulaiman bridge is considered one of the most important projects in Al Karma as it connects the Karma district center with Al-Khairat and Al-Jazeera districts. This bridge is crucial and is used to transport construction materials,” says Mohammed Ghazi, site engineer who was part of the team reconstructing the Ali Sulaiman bridge in Al Karma.
The bridges in Anbar were rehabilitated thanks to support from Australia, Denmark, European Union (EU), Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom (UK), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).