The UNICEF Water and Sanitation (WASH) programme, with financial support from the European Union (EU) has started the implementation of a public awareness project to promote efficient water use and improved hygiene practices in Iraq.
The project will engage 10 million Iraqis with messages on effective water conservation, water handling at the household level and hygiene practices. The project will aim change household level their behaviours and help the Government of Iraq’s efforts to institutionalize public awareness activities within existing ministries at national, regional and governorate levels.
So far, two workshops had been conducted, one in Erbil with the participation of the stakeholders in KRG governorates where a sub-national taskforce was formulated to operationalize the plans and another one in Najaf with the participation of senior staff from line ministries (General Secretariat for the Council of Ministries, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Municipality and Public Works, Ministry of Education, Mayoralty of Baghdad, and Ministry of Planning), in addition to local NGOs, media, institutions and social media experts.
The UNICEF WASH programme EU-funded project has four main pillars:
Gaining in sight on current practices by conducting a survey on social and behavioural practices on water usage and environmental aspects across Iraq to guide intervention messages and strategies.
Forming a higher ministerial committee and branch committees to operationalize and monitor the project across all of Iraq.
Agreeing on the objectives and messages to raise the awareness on water conservation and change behaviour.
Conducting a post campaign survey on water usage and environmental aspects to evaluate the impact of the project and the level of behaviour change.
“The importance of this project at this stage lies in the advocacy with the government counterparts, showing the importance of the conservation of water resources in anticipation of expected shortages in the near future as a result of climate change in the region and the extension of desertification to several agricultural lands,” said Dr. Ali Al-Khateeb, the acting chief of WASH. “It is also important to stop tampering with the water environment and prohibit disposing of waste and pollutants in water sources.”
Iranian companies are reported to be implementing water and electricity projects in Iraq worth over $1.3 billion (1.5 trillion Iraqi dinars).
According to an article from Trend, an Iranian Energy Ministry official said Iranian companies were currently working on 31 projects in Iraq in these sectors, and added that he expects more Iranian companies to invest in water and electricity projects in Iraq in the future.
The Iranian ambassador to Iraq, Hassan Danayeefar [Hassan Danae Fer] (pictured), is reported to have said in April that Iran exports 80 percent of its technical and engineering services to Iraq, and that the Iraqi market could absorb $500 billion worth of investment in that sector.
Despite relative success in stemming the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, Kurdish security forces faced their first major defeat on Thursday.
Sources report that Kurdish security forces have been forced to withdraw and that the vital Mosul Dam now lays under control of the extremists. The dam poses a safety risk to those Iraqis living in the flood plain, but also represents a means of income for ISIL.
The dam was also a focus point for almost $30 million USD during the American occupation. ISIL continues to fight for control of Iraq’s second largest dam, Haditha Dam, in Anbar province.
Kurdish forces had previously been successful in preventing the advance of ISIL militants. Kurdish security forces are not equipped to deal with ISIL militants, who are believed to be using captured American-grade military equipment that was left behind by Iraqi security forces.
By John Schnittker, Chief Economist at Schnittker Associates, and former Ministry Advisor at the US Embassy in Baghdad.
With much of Iraq’s wheat production coming from Northern Iraq and nearly all of Iraq’s water resources flowing through areas under ISIS control, Iraq’s food security may be facing a severe threat.
Iraq has about two thirds of this year’s wheat crop harvested, but this will not be adequate without additional imports, aside from the questions and logistical problems that are implicit given the current security and political crisis.
When and if the wheat harvest is completed in coming weeks across northern Iraq, around half of Iraq wheat crop will be in areas now under ISIS control. The remainder of the wheat crop will be stored in Ministry of Trade sites across southern Iraq. Iraq’s wheat production is blended with imported wheat, milled into flour and distributed as part of Iraq’s food ration or Public Distribution System.
Security concerns will likely severely impact the movement of wheat from storage sites to flour mills and ultimately to Iraq’s Public Distribution System (PDS) recipients. Regrettably those most in need of the PDS ration will be most affected. Imported wheat, used for blending with Iraqi wheat to improve both quality and appearance will also be affected, as it seems unlikely that the Ministry of Trade will be able to continue trucking shipments under current conditions into areas north and west of Baghdad. The potential exist that Iraqi citizens dependent upon the PDS across northern Iraq will face disruptions unless current situation is resolved.
The Euphrates and Tigris rivers enter Iraq in Anbar and Ninewa provinces respectively. Both of these provinces are under ISIS control. Dams on both rivers create the circumstances where the release of water can be severely cut back of cut off. It is also the case that water from both rivers can be diverted and stored before it reaches the major cities of Central and Southern Iraq.
Summer irrigation requirement s across Iraq are very high and could be disrupted. Drinking water will take priority over irrigation if water supplies are affected. Summer rice and vegetable crops stand the highest chance of facing irrigation water restrictions.
Water and wheat are the lifeblood of Iraq, ISIS control of the major rivers and dams and much of this season wheat crop has the potential to better define what currently is at stake.
Nickolay Mladenov (pictured), the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, visited the area of Abu Ghraib on Wednesday and spoke out against what he called the deliberate flooding of the area. Floods in Abu Ghraib have caused the displacement of more than 12,000 families and submerged hundreds of houses, including at least four schools.
Mr. Mladenov also reiterated the UN’s readiness to continue working with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration and the local authorities to address the urgent humanitarian needs in Abu Ghraib, notably access to safe drinking water.
Mr. Mladenov called on the Government, the Iraqi Security Forces, local authorities and tribal leaders to work jointly and quickly to restore legitimate control over the flow of the river Euphrates. He said that those who are now in control of the barrage in Fallujah should understand the consequences of their actions on the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis.
Asked about the use of water to flood neighbourhoods, the Spokesman pointed to the need to restore the legitimate control of the river.