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> There wasn't any rain, so the crops failed or sometimes the government took the harvest but didn't pay us. That's a problem too.>> This used to be Iraq's bread basket. Locals like Sami Nesanyasi say, it was green pastures and plowed fields as far as the eye can see.
Now, Nineveh Province is a dust pool, and the farmers who didn't flee are so desperate that some are even joining local militia groups, because it offers a more stable paycheck.>> If the situation stays the same, next year we won't be able to plant. We need government support.
>> 15 years of war and neglect of the area's irrigation system did this. Sami doesn't want to abandon his land. His children have moved to Canada and Germany but this is all he knows, yet money and sweat and tears and the risk of land mines have taken a toll.
He says the conditions cost him some $33,000 last year. Repairing irrigation canals like this could be a big step toward returning the area to its former greenery. The government says they're working on it, restoring this pump house and making a new water wells. They're optimistic even if progress is slow.
>> I think Islamic State try to make the water pump work but they didn't have the expertise, so ended up damaging some of the equipment.>> But critics say inefficiency, corruption and political infighting are making it all too little, too late. And a new dam in neighboring Turkey may siphon off even more water.
The ongoing security situation has only complicated matters. Sami's farm was ransacked by Islamic State when they occupy the area, their lingering presence means billions of Iraq's $88 billion reconstruction budget is used on defense.