Iraq: Notes From the Field

Some interviewers cleared their work in advance with local officials. In Maysan, "We needed to get permission from the village chief to interview with people. First he was suspicious about us, but when we described our company, our job, he gave us permission. After his permission people were comfortable with us."

Some field workers noted improving local conditions. In the al-Menaa area of Basra, "there was reconstruction going on in the area, construction of office buildings, and paving of roads, building of schools etc. People were very warm to us, easily joined to our work," an interviewer reported.

In Dhi Qar, just to the north, said another, "We saw construction work going on in this area. People of the region were quite happy with that, because except for the main street of the region, everywhere was covered with ruins and rubble and people are looking for some reconstruction works."

In Karbala, the outlook was brighter still: "There is construction going on in many of the districts we visited," a supervisor reported. "There were constructions of roads, sewage system, even some gardens and car parks."

But poor conditions were more the norm. In a remote Basra area, an interviewer said, "The village is in need of services and there is no clean drinking water." In south-central Wasit, "The people of the region complained about lack of electricity and problems with drinking water." In Irbil, "The condition is very bad in this region; there are no services, no electricity, fuel, pavement of roads."

At another locale in Irbil, "We noticed that security conditions are bad here. People of the region were cold to us. There is a fuel crisis here and people are buying fuel from the black market which is very expensive." In Muthanna: "The people of the town were suffering from lack of drinking water, bad roads, piles of garbage and stinking sewage."

In Sulaimaniyah, "There are reconstruction projects going on, but there is no electricity and fuel prices are very high, so people complained about the cost of generators and cooking and all things really. The region was very cold and lack of electricity was making life harder."

And in Maysan, an interviewer said, "The village is usually complaining about services. Mostly they complained about drinking water, electricity, and problems with getting necessary tools for their agricultural lands."

The complaints are serious ones, involving the basics of daily life, and they underscore some of the challenges facing Iraq. But in the interviewers' experiences – as in the survey results themselves – Iraq's greatest challenge, security, has improved.

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