TIME

How to rebuild a city: cold, hard cash

A woman stands among buildings damaged by airstrikes in southwest Mosul on April 3, 2017

IT IS FALL IN MOSUL, THE SEASON’S FIRST COOL BREEZES blow off the Tigris, and I am walking around a 12th century castle with my friend Safwan. We have spent the morning scouting on behalf of an NGO dedicated to direct cash assistance. The surrounding blocks are destroyed, but several families are trying to move back anyway, clearing the wrecked Ottoman courtyards, stone by stone. They are excellent candidates for support, but Safwan, a soft-spoken 29-year-old engineer, remains frustrated. “There is no progress with the mass of destruction,” he says. “It needs effort from foreign countries and serious work from the government. Until now, we haven’t seen that.”

Safwan’s frustration is common in Mosul. Though the city was liberated from ISIS in 2017, millions of tons of rubble are yet to be cleared; 40% of old Mosul

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME11 min readScience
The Climate Caucuses
Extreme weather in Iowa has forced 2020 U.S. presidential candidates to tackle climate change head-on
TIME3 min readScience
The Sands Of TIME
THIS ISSUE, IF CIVILIZATION can get its act together, might just mark a midpoint in TIME’s coverage of the biggest crisis facing our planet. Three decades ago—at a moment when much of the world was only beginning to wake up to the damage humanity ha
TIME3 min readScience
Two Bad Ideas For Green Energy
RANDALL MUNROE IS A CARTOONIST, AUTHOR, ENGINEER, SCIENTIFIC THEORIST AND THE CREATOR OF THE web comic xkcd. Below are two tongue-in-cheek proposals for new ways to generate emissions-free energy—both are clearly not viable, but perhaps they’ll inspi