Participatory Budget Planning Project - Phase2
Background and Context
Aiming at improving services in minority communities by empowering these communities to identify priority infrastructure, development, and service needs and engaging the provincial authorities to allocate equitable and sufficient funds to meet those needs; The Alliance of Iraqi Minorities (AIM) succeeded through series of activities to contribute to the reforming of the Federal Budget Law and to convey the needs of their communities by lobbying elected and appointed officials of their districts and sub-districts to develop a list of prioritized strategic projects, and advocating Nineveh government and Provincial Council to include these projects in 2012 budget plans. These efforts were culminated by approving several projects in July 2012 including a hospital in Telkaif, in Bashiqa, and in Qahtania within FY12 supplementary budget as well as other projects of significant importance to minority communities in Nineveh.
In July 2012 signs for Inter-minority conflict, particularly between Shebak and Christians, started to rise in Birtilla, a sub-district attached to Hamdanyia and located 20 KM east of Mosul with a population estimated at 30,000, the majority of which are Christians. Birtilla is surrounded by 16 villages populated by Mulsim Shabak. The prospects for better job opportunities and public services resulted in encroachment on the Christian town of Birtella by Shebaks from the countryside and surrounding villages. This caused the Christian community to fear demographic change, loss of their enclave, way of life and gerrymandering. The conflict was triggered by a decision made by the Shi’aa endowment approving a budget to construct one Hussayniyah (or shi’aa mosque) and one Shi’aa academy, to be built in Birtilla which raised concerns and fears among the Christian community. Furthermore, Birtilla’s sub-district council has voted to build 800 residential units that will be distributed to Shabak-Shi’aa.
With the support of USIP, the Alliance of Iraqi Minorities (AIM) in cooperation and coordination with the Network of Iraqi Facilitators (NIF) started the Nineveh Intervention Project that aims at finding mechanisms for solving the disputes between the two minority communities. Analyzing the problem, four thematic areas were identified by both parties; these are: Religious rituals, security, ownership rights and public services. After series of meetings and dialogue, both parties agreed on solutions for each theme among which was improving services in villages and changing the rank of many of the villages with population that exceeds 3000 inhabitants to sub-districts in accordance with the law.
It is worth mentioning that the law on municipality limits the provision of services to towns and cities (Center cities of the province, the district and the sub-district) that have municipality units and divisions, leaving their attached villages with no services in spite of the increasing number of its population. The law requires the officials of the competent administrative units to provide basic services to villages but there are no specific mechanisms for implementation. Moreover, the violence against minorities in Nineveh after 2003 forced most minority families to flee Mosul, the center city, to places where they form a majority. Christians mostly resided in the center city of Hamdanyia, Birtilla and Karamles; while Shabak mostly live in villages surrounding these cities. As a result, the life style in these villages started to change since the newcomers are used to a higher standard of living and services. The new decentralized administrative system in Iraq requires local governments to plan for providing these services. Responsibilities are not clear yet between the different levels of local governments on allocating the required funds, administrating these funds, recruitment of personnel, procurement of needed machinery or supervising the process.
AIM launching the second phase of the project
In the beginning of August 2012, the AIM steering committee held series of meetings to evaluate outcomes of phase one, assess the needs and set the plan of action for a second phase of the project with special focus on enhancing peace and stability among minority communities through providing adequate services to these communities.
The specific objectives for the second phases:
-To advocate officials in districts and sub-districts' councils to allocate funds to cover for providing basic services to villages, when planning FY13 budget and to conduct urban planning to villages to simplify the provision of services.
-Reach out to Nineveh government to advocate for setting mechanisms for administering the process.
On the course of 6 months, the AIM steering committee held a series of meetings and workshops with elected and appointed officials from different administrative levels and with members of the Parliamentary Minority Caucus to discuss these issues, working collectively to come up with recommendations and to find means for sustainable solutions.
-Nineveh Officials adopted the recommendations from the working groups immediately setting a new mechanism to deliver basic services to villages outside municipality boundaries.
-Districts and sub-districts councils allocated funds for services to villages when planned FY13 budget.
-Nineveh Government approved a budget of 8.750 Billion Iraqi Dinars to conduct Urban Planning for villages and approved referring part of the work to private sector firms in order to hasten the process.
In October 2012, the Rural Development Unit in Nineveh started its work in some villages focusing on the Shabak villages with the intention to expand its work to all villages in the province.