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Location: KERBALA Total Visits: 30990

Kerbala is located between Anbar, Babil and Najaf in southern central Iraq. It is one of the country’s smallest and least populated governorates. The capital city of the same name houses the shrine of Imam Hussein, a holy site for Shi’a Muslims which attracts many pilgrims, particularly from Iran.


The weakness of Kerbala’s private sector could be contributing to the high poverty levels throughout the governorate. Over a quarter (27%) of those employed in Kerbala are unwaged, particularly those employed in wholesale and retail trade, agriculture, transport and communications. 29% of waged work is provided by the government or public sector. A relatively small proportion of jobs is provided by agriculture (12%, compared to a 21% national average). The low importance of agriculture – one of the main employers of Iraqi women – could be contributing to the low female labour force participation rates in Kerbala’s rural areas (11%, compared to the 25% national average for rural women).


Kerbala’s performance according to humanitarian and development indicators is variable. The percentage of households connected to the water network is relatively high, yet 54% of households in Al-Hindia district suffer from irregular availability of drinking water. Education levels are low outside Kerbala district, particularly among women. While primary school enrolment rates are above average, intermediate enrolment is low, with only 17% of urban boys aged 12-14 enrolled.


Kerbala’s relatively calm security situation and predominantly Shi’a population led many Shi’a fleeing the wave of violence in Baghdad and Diyala during 2006-7 to seek refuge there. Access to work, shelter and food are top priority needs for IDPs in the governorate. Over a quarter (27%) of IDP families live in collective settlements or public buildings, 62% have no family member in employment, and 12% of families receive no electricity. 16% of families (20% in al-Hindiya) are headed by women and almost half of IDPs are under the age of 18.


Governorate Capital: Kerbala
Area: 5,034 sq km (1% of Iraq)
Population: 887,859 (3% of total)
  Source: GoI COSIT (est. for 2007)

Gender Distribution: Male: 50% Female: 50%
Geo Distribution: Rural: 35% Urban: 65%
  Source: GoI COSIT (est. for 2007)

Population by district:
  Source: WFP VAM (2007)
Reports & Assessments

Karbala Factbook

An overview of the funds and projects completed in Karbala


US Government, May 2005
Download: English, 0.45MB

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