Nov 20, 2012

Clay houses becoming something of the past in villages

A view of a typical Kurdish village in Kurdistan Region. PRESS PHOTO

The Kurdish Globe
By Shvan Goran--Duhok 

Housing loans in the Kurdistan have made the villages flourish faster than ever in terms of construction and housing.
Just a few hundred meters beside the Upper Zap River, lies a village in the district of Bardarash named 'Chama' which appears as a white new landscape with modern and well-designed houses. You can hardly see any clay houses remaining in the village although they used to be the only form of dwelling for its residents (the majority of who depend on agriculture and livestock for their income) just 3 years ago.

After recently receiving a housing loan from the government, a resident is now constructing a new house, but this time in a modern design by using cement-bricks rather than clay-bricks which were made by hand. "It costs much more than building a clay house, but it's more comfortable for me and my family" says Ameen Hussein, a man form one of the villages in Duhok province. "If we have a paved way connecting us to the towns and cities, and modern houses to live in, then what differences can living in a city have with living in a village" wonders Hussein, adding that even life in the villages is not as simple as it used to be.

The KRG is now giving villagers IQD 25 million (approximately USD 20,000) as housing loans which is repaid within 20 years with no interest. This decision has made the villages flourish faster than ever in terms of construction and housing; additionally it has lowered moving on to the cities to some extent. According to Directorate of Duhok Housing Bank, more than 14,000 villagers have got the loan in the bank which covers the villages around Duhok city and four districts so far. "There are very few villagers left that haven't got the housing loan yet in Duhok province" said Nafi'a Amedi, head of Duhok Housing Bank in an interview with the Globe.

Shawn Chamayi, another man from Chama village, says that majority of the people of his village have built new concrete house after getting the housing loan the government provided. "The village consists of more than 380 houses with only about 40 clay houses left" he told the Globe. He claims that clay houses should ideally undergo reconstruction of their roofs and outside walls before the approaching winter every year, but with concrete houses, you build them once and never need to be concerned about the drops of rain coming down through the roof during winter. Regarding the heating and conditioning in the villages, Shwan says that clay houses are better in terms of the consumption of electricity and oil over heating and conditioning the house, because, as he says "clay houses are cooler in summer and warmer in winter compared to concrete houses." "This is one of the few advantages of clay houses" he concludes.

Once a villager wants to construct a new house, it has to be supervised by an engineer assigned by the municipality of the district or the sub-district, especially in terms of designing and making sure that the piece of land which the villager is building his house on is suitable.

Ibraheem Majeed, a man who moved with his family to live in a town 3 years ago says that when he visited his village, things were not like as it before. "I don't even know which house belongs to whom any more" he says, referring to the large number of new modern houses which were built in the village. Majeed says that it may cost IQD 30 million to build a house in a village, but then when you want to sell it, you will get half of that money.

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