On 27 July 2019, the Alamara Council for Social Cohesion held a joint session with the Environment and Water masar (Path) of the Iraqi Social Forum to discuss issues relating to the environment and tourism in the city of Amara in Maysan Province.
The session opened with an introduction to the work of the Council: its coordinator, Asaad Jabbar, reviewed the issues with which the Council is most concerned and noted its most prominent achievements, many of which were made possible through close collaboration with different masarat of the Iraqi Social Forum. Next Salman Khairallah, the coordinator of the Environment and Water masar, introduced its work.
Following the introductions and overview, the two groups turned their attention to the specific needs of the city of Amara, which now faces serious problems relating to pollution, particularly in the Marshes, a popular destination for tourists. Participants in the session generated a set of proposals to be discussed at a future round table with decision-makers in the region, environment and water and activists, tourism companies and investors. Their aim was to come up with a framework which would lay out clear strategies for environmental revitalization and sustainable tourism.
The recommendations are as follows:
• investment in modern technology (a GPS tracking system) which would regulate and monitor boats coming and going in the Marshes, thus stopping overfishing and preventing access to restricted areas;
• establishment of a heritage museum within the Marshes which features and supports local artisans and their work;
• imposition of a tax on tourists, tourist companies and owners of boats to ensure sustainable tourism;
• development of a uniform database for tourists and appointment of official tour guides;
• placement of clear signs marking the Marshes and roads leading to them;
• education of tourists about the importance of cleanliness inside the Marshes;
• development of a clear and accessible map of tourist sites;
• launching of a website on the Marshes, tourist areas and shops.
The Amara Council for Social Cohesion is one of 4 councils operating in 4 Iraqi governorates (Sulaymaniyah, Baghdad, Falluja and Maysan). The Council works with the Information Center for Research and Development, the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, the Italian Organization Un Ponte Per, and has support from the EU project “Youth of Mesopotamia for Democratic Governance and Peaceful Coexistence in Iraq.”
Alamara Council for social Cohesion.