Global Voices

Paddling Against Pollution: One Man’s Mission to Protect Iraq’s Rivers for Future Generations

For the past seven years, Nabil Musa has been traveling around Iraq on a one-man mission to promote the importance of clean waterways for current and future generations.

This post by Todd Reubold was originally published on Ensia.com, a magazine that highlights international environmental solutions in action. It is republished here as part of a content sharing agreement.

For the past seven years, Nabil Musa has been traveling — often times on a paddle board or in a raft — around the Kurdistan region of Iraq on a one-man mission to promote the importance of clean waterways for the current and future generations.

In this documentary by Emily Kinskey, we follow Musa as he explains his relationship to the rivers in his region and the effect pollution has in his community.  “I really wanted to do something about the river we lost when I was a child,” Musa said.

Experts throughout the country fear that decades of war, pollution, uncharted development and damming mean a water crisis in Iraq is imminent.

Musa is part of the NGO Waterkeepers Iraq — an affiliate of Waterkeeper Alliance — which advocates and works “to protect the rivers, streams and waterways of Iraq and support local communities in the sustainable use of these natural resources.”

Toward the end of the video, Musa sums up the urgency at the heart of his work by asking, “If we don’t have this water, how can we survive?”  

This video was produced, filmed and edited for Ensia by Emily Kinskey, a documentary filmmaker and multimedia journalist currently based in Erbil, Iraq. Her work focuses on underreported and persecuted subcultures, and is characterized by collaborative videography and innovative multimedia techniques that assists oppressed communities in framing their narrative.

Originally published in Global Voices.

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