BAGHDAD, Iraq – Residents of Sadr City, a deprived district of the Iraqi capital, face another winter without adequate infrastructure.
Ten quarters of the Shiite-majority district, named after Islamic scholar Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, lack basic services, paved streets, drinking water, electricity, or drainage.
Citizens have protested countless times, but little has been done by successive government to remedy the situation.
“We don’t have basic services. No one comes to help us. None of the authorities have visited here. Those [authorities] in Baghdad say there is no budget. This is not true: it is a lot,” complained Nasir Ali, a Sadr City resident.
“We don’t have a drainage system, there is no water. The electricity has been failing for two years. Where should these poor people go? If we had enough money we wouldn’t live in this mud,” said Zahra, another resident.
The Iraqi government has not initiated an infrastructure project in Sadr City’s 31 quarters in 15 years – since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The restive area of two million people was then known as Saddam City.
Several of the area’s newer quarters are deemed illegal under planning laws.
“The Amana (Municipality Directorate) deals with the legality of places and areas. If these areas become legal, the Amana would have made plans for them. But these areas and quarters are not legal and are agricultural lands. People have been settled here illegally and if we help them, it’s only out of our own humanity,” said Yaseen Abbas, an official from Sadr City municipality.