Kurdistan - Energy Migration
In the villages of Iraqi Kurdistan, the lack of electricity is a major factor in the massive migration to nearby cities. Once thriving communities--some with electricity and running water--were reduced to rubble in Saddam Hussein’s 1988 campaign of genocide in the region. Despite a population resurgence in the 90’s, few villages have been rebuilt, and now many are nearly empty once more.
“No one wants to stay here,” says Nashmil Aziz Rashid, a mother of 8, about her village, Binika. “The reasons are the lack of electricity, water, hospitals, schools. The basic needs of life.”
Government officials list more complex reasons: The American invasion brought new police and military jobs, and an influx of cheap goods from neighboring countries allows for less farming in Kurdistan itself. But Khulaf Mohammed Qochakh, the brother-in-law of Mrs. Rashid, sees the situation in much simpler terms.
"Electricity is the step that allows us to walk," he says. "It's a bigger issue than water. If we had electricity, we could pump water from nearby wells. We've asked the government for electricity many times, but they've brought only promises."
Reasons can be debated, but a certain irony is impossible to ignore: on top of one of the world’s largest oil fields lies a region where people live without regular access to energy.