15 Oct 2022 |

Young people in Iraq make traditional soaps

Mission East provides improved sanitation and life skills for children and youth affected by internal displacement and the Corona crisis in Kirkuk, Iraq.

Once considered a model of peaceful coexistence in Iraq, Kirkuk is now a community marked by crisis and unrest. There is a lack of basic services in the community and the political and economic situation is unstable. Durable solutions have still not been found for many of the families displaced by the fighting against ISIS, and the corona pandemic has only made the pain worse.

For children and young people in Kirkuk, this means that families' livelihoods have disappeared and already run-down schools have been challenged by a lack of hygiene measures. This makes it difficult to go to school - especially for girls and children with disabilities.

Mission East Irak sæbeproduktion

This project focuses on promoting knowledge about personal health and hygiene in 10 schools. At the same time, we are reviving the ancient Kirkuk tradition of soap-making by training 80 young people to produce traditional, low-cost and environmentally friendly soap. In this way, the young people experience how old traditions can still be relevant today, while learning to earn money using their new skills.

The young people are also trained as ambassadors to teach good hygiene habits to around 5,000 school children. Toilets and taps are repaired in the schools, and the soap that the young people make is of course also part of the hygiene education in the schools.


- Kirkuk is located 240 kilometres north of Baghdad and has a diverse population of Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds;

- About one fifth of the population (185,000 out of 1,000,000) is in need of some form of humanitarian assistance (shelter, health care, education, etc.).

- Most of this fifth are people who have returned after ISIS was defeated. However, they lack opportunities to earn an income.

- This was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: UNOCHA's "Humanitarian needs overview", released March 2022