Skip to main content

Written up by: David Bassuk

In the face of climate challenges in Iraq, a unique initiative unfolded, spearheaded by David Bassuk, leveraging Impact Experience Design (IXD) to navigate the complexities of building a joint project for two distinct cultures (Arab/Kurd) within a single nation. The goal? Activate both men and women to collaboratively devise solutions for the pressing issue of desertification.

The project’s genesis lay in a hackathon, but the initial hurdle was garnering interest. Enter IXD, employed ingeniously as a low-key entry point: a game. An immersive gaming experience paved the way for a cultural festival, creating a space where attention and enthusiasm flourished. This marked the perfect transition to invite the audience to a hackathon, where teams conceptualized solutions addressing desertification, water scarcity, and soil regeneration. These solutions, in turn, received valuable guidance, funding, and diverse forms of support.

IXD played a pivotal role by:

      1. Teaching IXD to Hackathon Participants: Participants were immersed in IXD through media, games, digital storytelling, and narrative creation. The focus was on developing impact experiences that resonated emotionally, moving beyond cognitive knowledge sharing.
      2. Directing Attention Creatively: Leveraging play, fun, and local customs, the project creatively directed citizens’ attention toward the hackathon, ensuring a broad and diverse participation.
      3. Tailoring Entry Points Across Diverse Realities: Recognizing the cultural differences between North and South Iraq, entry points, such as games and festivals, were tailored to operate seamlessly across six cities, accommodating varying cultural, linguistic, and worldview nuances.

UNAMI (UN Assistance Mission Iraq), the Iraqi government, city coordinators, and local NGOs collaborated to lead the project’s implementation. Through three iterations, involving over 500 people and the development of approximately 90 impactful solutions by youth teams, the project has now achieved a self-sustaining momentum.

“Take it from your mind and put it into their hearts because smart words won’t create the change you aspire.” 

The tangible outcome is a vibrant cross-cultural community of young individuals actively participating in their democracy, driving change for their future. Through the infusion of play and creativity, their passion for action has been ignited, creating a ripple effect that invites others to join them in making a positive impact.