In addition to the displacement of populations from the villages that the expansion is projected to result in, the dam will also detrimentally affect the possibility for the development of a sustainable, tourism-based economy, which will inevitably be based on the region’s unique Assyrian cultural heritage. Whilst some archaeological sites have been mapped, albeit through satellite imagery, no one has engaged with people and communities about the possible impact of the dam on the area’s archaeology and the possible impact it may have on its future. This is deeply worrying given that the Makhoul Dam basin areas potentially have a sustainable resource in the form of tourism in such sites as Ashur.
To date, there have been no interest or activity associated with the ways in which the expansion of the dam could affect people, communities and society over the next few years. As such, this project will, in this context, be the first such initiative to work with local communities to better understand their concerns and assist in ensuring their voices are listened to nationally, with relevant governmental institutions and internationally.
Emad from Al Houriya village in Salahaddin states that planning and a comprehensive strategy from the government regarding affected communities are required. He, however, does not oppose the construction of the dam.
Sheikhs and elderly people from Kirkuk and Salahaddin recall with nostalgia a time when the Tigris was a central trade route used for vessel navigation and now state that the river has dropped to record levels.
Dr Ahmed, a professor of geography and citizen of Al-Twiriya village in Tikrit, reiterates that local populations have not been approached by authorities regarding the future of their communities, creating an atmosphere of ambiguity and uncertainty regarding Makhoul Dam.
More than 183 archeological sites will be submerged because of Makhoul Dam including Ashur which is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we can listen to one of the citizens of the surrounding villages urging authorities to protect his community’s history and identity.
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