To end the year of 2017, Dhi Qar Forum organized its main event of the year: the annual festival of I Love Dhi Qar in the city of Nasiriyah, Southern Iraq, from 28-30 December 2017, consisting of several activities aimed at bringing together local civil society, youth and communities. Dhi Qar Forum represents a civil space for joint action, consisting of a number of volunteer teams and community organizations who are active in the city of Nasiriyah. The forum operates in accordance with the charter and principles of the Iraqi Social Forum.
“Our Marshlands are World Heritage” conference
The first day the Forum was launched with the conference “Our marshlands are world heritage”, in the town of Chibayish, east of Nasiriyah, near Al-Hammar and the Central Marshes. It was attended by 30 people representing local governments in the cities of Chibayish, Al-Hammar and Al-Islah, as well as tribes of those cities, and members of the Dhi Qar Provincial Council, and a representative of the Office of the province and Ministries. The conference was also the start of a youth camp organized for volunteers and representatives of the Association in the marshes of the cities of Hit, Najaf, Diwaniyah and Nasiriyah, which lasted for three days.
Naseer Baqer, representative of I Love Dhi Qar Forum, in the opening speech urged the participants to cooperate together to keep the Marshes in the World Heritage List, and to improve the living standards of the marshland inhabitants. The gathering then focused on three important issues: financial allocations for the Marshlands in the federal budget for 2017, water quotas for the Marshlands and the need for equitable distribution of water, and microenterprise loans for the local population.
Iraqi Heritage … Risks and Challenges
The next day as part of “I Love Dhi Qar” 14 Iraqi youth took part in the “Iraqi Heritage..Risks and Challenges” In the Museum of Nasiriyah. The workshop discussed the importance of preserving Iraq’s national heritage. Neglect is one of the most important threats to Iraqi cultural heritage. Youth agreed the need to campaign for the protection of the civilization heritage of Iraq.
On the second day, a discussion session was held entitled “Voluntary work… horizons and challenges” in Mashufna Cultural Center with 18 Nasiriya volunteers. The session reflected on perspectives and examples of volunteering in the country. To the most important challenges facing voluntary work in Iraq, the most important of which is the Voluntary Work Law, which is to be passed in the House of Representatives.
“I Love Dhi Qar” Second Festival
The Forum concluded with the second I Love Dhi Qar Festival, It was held in the park of the city of Nasiriyah and attended by more than 1200 people. Different activities were organized in the open space during the festival. These include art galleries, handicraft and photograph exhibitions. Naseer Baqer (Mashufna Cultural Center) and Ali Saheb (Iraqi Social Forum) in their opening speeches stressed the importance of creating spaces for volunteering and to discuss social alternatives. A Sumerian art group presented a theater scene which highlighted the lack of commitment from politicians to provide proper services to citizens. A group of volunteers from the forum presented a play entitled “Abu Hantoush”on the phenomenon of resorting to magic and witchcraft to treat diseases. This phenomenon is widespread in different parts of Central and Southern Iraq. The Shabaad musical band presented various musical pieces that were well received by the audience.
Dhi Qar Forum is supported by Swiss FAI Foundation, in cooperation with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, the Information Center for Research and Development, and Un Ponte Per… (UPP)