The 2nd Phase of Project

Between 2014 and 2017, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed, and millions of individuals were displaced, due to the Islamic State’s (IS) occupation and the subsequent military campaign to defeat its forces. IS particularly targeted minority communities living in the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq, including Christians, Ezidi, Shabaks, Turkmen, and Kakai. Members of these minority communities were executed, enslaved, or forcibly converted to IS’s radical form of Sunni Islam. Regional livelihoods based on farming and animal husbandry were devastated. IS also destroyed many historical, religious, and cultural heritage sites, leading to a sense of spiritual loss and community estrangement. 

This project foregrounds the linkages between cultural meaning and agricultural landscapes to examine the compounded social, cultural, agricultural, and economic effects of the IS occupation on ethnic and religious minority communities in the Ninawa province, with a particular focus on the districts of Hamdaniya and Tel Keyf and the sub-district of Bashiqa. It takes a systematic, landscape approach that underscores the cultural importance of agrarian activities in promoting economic security, cultural identity, and a sense of belonging. We consider agricultural activities quite broadly, including market crop cultivation, home gardens, livestock production, and the collection of wild plants. We also incorporate the local manufacture of culturally important products including olive oil, cheese, tahini, and locally milled bulgur. 

The overall project has four main research objectives. Phase I of the project focuses on the first, second, and fourth objectives:

The goal of Phase 2 is to use the knowledge gained from Phase 1 research to restore agriculturally based cultural practises and to develop the University of Duhok's relevant, transferable capabilities in both implementation and research. We have identified a number of opportunities for Phase II extension project activities based on the research done and talks with the project team. With an emphasis on co-ownership, location, and belonging, each of these activities has the potential to deepen the generative links between cultural meaning and agricultural landscapes and to assist community resilience, recovery, and healing over the long term.  ➤ EXPLORE MORE


The Advocacy Group's primary mission is to contribute to the overall objectives of the project titled "Support to Traditional Cultural Practices in Northern Iraq" through advocacy efforts such as cultural awareness meetings and activities with local communities, political and administrative actors, and other humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding actors. ➤ READ MORE

The group made up of the University of Duhok and Indiana (USA) University teams. The University team visited many of the villages covering all the minorities living in the Nineveh Plains for a month in order to meet the locals for the purpose of establishing trust, which in turn encouraged better and wider adoption of community engagement in the project to restore the cultural practices of wild plants.  

The extension group is part of a larger initiative led by the University of Duhok and funded by USAID. The main mission of this group is to identify valuable agricultural resources for farmers of minorities living in Nineveh Plains, identify the main challenges to developing these resources, raise awareness among farmers, and make appropriate suggestions to help them improve skills. ➤ READ MORE

The marketing group has established an action plan to fulfil the project's overall goals as well as the marketing group's specific targets. Whereas the marketing team began by getting to know the olive farmers, their needs, and the issues they confront, they next met with the owners of factories and stores, especially Al-Tarshi stores, to analyse their needs and determine the amount of demand. ➤ READ MORE


The Activity #1 consisted of Promotion of agricultural production, exchange and inter-community collaboration. According to the Phase 1 evaluation findings, the two main impediments to farming post-IS are a lack of financial resources (81%), followed by a lack of equipment (36%). Financial viability and sustainability are critical for the restoration of cultural activities. Food is seen to have significant cultural importance, as demonstrated by the initial needs assessment, with a large majority of those surveyed seeing meals for special occasions (72% of overall respondents; 82% for Kakai) and dishes associated with religious events (62% of overall respondents; 76% of Ezidis; 83% of Turkmen) as playing an important role in their life. ➤ LEARN MORE

The Activity #2, Farmers from minority groups claim that local products cannot compete with inexpensive imports, prices are low, leaving farmers with little to no profit margin, and thus disincentivizes the creation of culturally appropriate animal and plant species. Farmers' primary source of income, locally bred livestock, cannot compete with imported meat and dairy goods from Iran and Turkey. In addition to concerns about the government's grain procurement scheme, there are comparable issues in the agricultural sector. These issues include considerable payment delays, long silo lines that increase transportation costs, and requests for bribes in order for grain to be received at the silo.  READ MORE

Leaders of the Ezidis and Kakai groups claim challenges in promoting and selling their agricultural goods, including as cattle, dairy products, and other consumables, to Muslim populations for apparently hygienic and religious reasons. This is thought to be the result of ignorance (misinformation) and/or preconceptions about their beliefs, which has a detrimental effect on their way of life and capacity to continue engaging in agriculture. They also cite incidents of hate speech directed at their communities as a result of ignorance of their religion, as shown by school curriculum that primarily emphasise Islamic doctrines. Lack of knowledge and hate speech are thought to worsen intercommunal trust, social cohesion, and cohabitation while also fostering economic and social discrimination.  EXPLORE THIS ACTIVITY

A multi-stakeholder strategy is necessary for the restoration of the cultural and agricultural practices of the ethno-religious minority in Northern Iraq. The capacity of stakeholders to implement strategies is constrained by technical, financial, and "programme scope" issues (from local communities to UN Agencies). Given the dependency between the results of one programme and those of other programmes, these restrictions in turn serve as incentives for coordination and collaboration. In this regard, collaboration and information exchange with other assistance organisations is essential for long-term sustainability of outcomes as well as for the encouragement of aims and objectives alignment and social and political transformation in Northern Iraq. ACCESS TO READ MORE

A botanical garden, often referred to as a botanic garden, is a meticulously curated space housing a diverse and well-documented collection of living plants. These gardens serve a multifaceted purpose, including scientific research, conservation, public display, and education. Each plant is typically labeled with its precise botanical name, contributing to the garden's educational value. The University of Duhok has iinitiated  a series of innovative Botanical Garden Projects in locations including Bashiqa, Krimles Hamadania, Telkef, and the Mother Botanical Garden. These projects represent a fresh initiative aimed at supporting and conserving local plant species, fostering environmental awareness, and providing valuable resources for scientific exploration.


Discover deeper insights into our discoveries and recommendations by accessing the complete Phase One report. Uncover invaluable knowledge on the revival of cultural customs and the rejuvenation of agricultural environments in Northern Iraq. 


Phase Two places emphasis on the interconnections between cultural significance and agricultural settings, aiming to analyze the intricate social, cultural, agricultural, and economic impacts of the IS occupation on ethnic and religious minority communities in Ninawa province. This phase particularly concentrates on the districts of Hamdaniya and Tel Keyf, as well as the sub-district of Bashiqa.