How many of you know about the marshlands located in Iraq? We are guessing that not many of you do. Let’s take a trip to the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands that used to cover more than 9,000 sq. miles and were inhabited for more than 5,000 years and at one time – during its peak – was home to 0.5 million ‘Ma’dan’ (Marsh Arabs).
Marsh Arabs was the collective name given to a number of tribes that had managed to develop a culture that was both beautiful and eco-friendly while focusing on natural resources of the marsh. The most amazing aspect of the lifestyle that was adopted by Marsh Arabs was the intricate designs of their housing. The houses floated and were made from reeds that had been harvested from the open water.
These amazing houses were called ‘mudhif’ and were built in three days and qualified as temporary structures. The construction didn’t involve any wood or nails and you’d be surprised to know that even the islands on which these houses were placed had been created from an assortment of rushes and mud. The area was famous for allowing refuge to all serfs and slaves and that is what consequently made it fall after the Uprising of 1991 against Saddam Hussein when the Government decided to completely drain the wetlands and punish those who were harboring rebels.
The situation improved in 2003 when US invaded Iraq and communities started breaching the policies of government. The work for the restoration of the marshes began and the 4-year drought was brought to an end – dams that were holding Tigres and Euphrates back were brought down resulting in re-flooding of 1/4th of the original area of the marsh.
Nature Iraq is an organization founded by Iraqi-American hydraulic engineer that is working for the restoration of this area and bringing back Marsh Arabs to their homes by providing them with financial support. The tradition of helping anyone when they ask for has been kept alive by the organization in the form of a guest house for anyone that visits the marshes.
So next time you get to visit Iraq, do check this place out as its an engineering marvel in a way too!