The design, construction and maintenance of a SuDS management train to address surface water flows by engaging the community: Gawilan refugee camp, Ninewah Governate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Sue Charlesworth, Mitchell McTough, Andrew Adam-Bradford

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Refugee camps are set up under crisis conditions in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the UNHCR with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) installed as a matter of course. However, in general, little account is taken of surface water drainage or greywater management until the camp floods or greywater streams become an environmental or health issue. This paper reports on the construction of a sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) management train in a refugee camp with the community and local Non Governmental Organisations to address excess surface water and lack of greywater management in this most challenging of environments. There is thus potential to influence policy, at the first stages of planning, to encourage installation of drainage as well as WASH. SuDS mimic nature by percolating water into the ground, storing it and allowing slow conveyance to reduce the storm peak, improve water quality, and provide space for amenity for residents and for biodiversity. By encouraging the water to infiltrate, polluted standing water between dwellings and on the street is reduced, so that human and environmental health are improved, with the potential
to address nuisance insect breeding sites. Site walkovers, workshops and meetings engaged residents in the design process from the very beginning. The design produced by the community was professionally drawn up, passed to UNHCR and local management engineers for comment and approval; this paper describes the process of designing and constructing the first SuDS management
train to be built in a humanitarian setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number fez082
Pages (from-to)(In-press)
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Early online date5 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2019


Bibliographical note

The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivs licence (, which permits non-commercial reproduction and distribution of the work, in any medium, provided the original work is not altered or transformed in any way, and that the work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please


Humanitarian Innovation Fund


  • Sustainable Drainage (SuDS)
  • refugee camp
  • greywater management
  • Community engagement
  • management train

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