DİHA - Dicle News Agency


A model of municipal service in Rojava: Dêrik Municipality

15 September
11:00 2014

DÊRIK (DİHA) - Dêrik is one of the towns in the Cizîre (Jazireh) canton of Rojava (West Kurdistan).

It has a population of between 45 and 50 thousand. However, with the influx of displaced people from Sinjar (Shengal) fleeing the savagery of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Sham) gangs being accommodated at the Newroz camp and in various villages, the population has increased. Dêrik is also seen as a model of municipal service by the autonomous administration in Rojava.

33 communes established

The principal tenet of municipal governance is to ensure the participation of local people. Significant steps have already been taken in this regard. The town has been divided into 5 separate areas and 33 communes have been set up. The communes are open to everyone. However, there is a condition: to respect the value of others. In other words, not being someone who disturbs other people. The communes meet once a week, and if there is work they want to carry out in their area they raise it at the meeting and reach a decision. The communes then send the decision to the town assembly. Once the town assembly and the communes have decided how the work will be carried out, it is submitted to the relevant institution or the People's Municipality. The municipality then endeavours to implement the decision.

All resources created by efforts of workers

The municipality of the regime existed until last January, but during this time officials from the autonomous administration also worked at the municipality. In January 2014 the Dêrik People's Municipality officially began its work in a separate building, taking over all the functions of the regime's municipality. In this way there was no longer a need for the previous municipality. The people began to see the Dêrik People's Municipality as the place where problems were resolved, and the regime's municipality turned into an office that merely paid its employees' salaries. It would be difficult to say the municipality has a budget. Nearly all the resources are created by the efforts of the workers. However, since 1 April when all licensing of housing and workplaces began to be carried out by the People's Municipality a source of income has been come into being.

Principle of salary according to need

The total number of employees at the municipality in the electricity, water, fuel, bakery and cleaning fields is over 100. For a long time they received no remuneration at all, but as the municipality began to create resources payment began to be made to the employees to make their lives a little easier. The principle involved is according to need. Unmarried employees receive 15 thousand, those who are married receive between 20 and 25 thousand. Assistance such as food parcels is also provided from time to time.

Problems of water and electricity largely resolved

The Dêrik People's Municipality has to a great extent resolved the most fundamental needs of the people by ensuring a regular supply of water and electric power. Until a year ago there were frequent power cuts and this also caused the water supply to be cut off. However, this has been largely overcome. The hospital in the town now has a constant 24-hour supply of electricity. The supply of water is mainly from underground sources. Generators have been placed next to wells so that even in the event of power cuts the supply of water will continue. In Dêrik signs regarding cleanliness attract attention. The municipality is prioritising cleanliness, but the conflict situation also affects this, as it affects all other work. A hundred refuse bins of a thousand sent from Iran and originally earmarked for Dêrik have been given to the Newroz camp for refugees from Sinjar.

Low cost services

The Dêrik People's Municipality has not yet charged for the electricity it provides. Work is continuing to establish an Electricity Board. Once it is established a symbolic fee will be charged to encourage the people to use electricity more carefully. 1,500 lira will begin to be charged for water and cleaning every other month. The aim of this is to prevent the over-consumption of water, rather than to create a resource for the municipality. In addition to water, electricity and cleaning, the Dêrik People's Municipality has also begun to build roads to some villages. Sewage pipes and drinking water is also being provided to new settlements. Employees of the municipality emphasise that all this is being accomplished with meagre resources, adding: "this might not seem much when compared with other municipalities, but these are great steps for us. We are trying to all these things while in a conflict environment." The Dêrik People's Municipality is also arranging public education meetings with the communes in order to change the habits of the Assad regime period.

Encouraging women out of their houses

The Dêrik People's Municipality has also begun work for women. The first aim of this work is to encourage women to participate in work outside the home. Work has also begun to ascertain women who have lost their husbands. Women employees of the municipality have asked widows what they expect from the municipality. A project has been set up to enable women to work. The aim is to establish an agricultural cooperative where a thousand women would be employed. There are also plans to open a bakery producing cakes and pastries.

The Dêrik People's Municipality has also decided to commence educational and social work for women from Sinjar at the Newroz camp.