Prepared by: Astrid E. Sletten, Area Manager, Baghdad
Gary Campbell, WASH Specialist
Mission dates: 15-18 September 2018
Report date: 22 September 2018
The objective of NRC’s second mission was to better identify specific needs and areas of intervention to both help prevent the deterioration of the crisis in Basra and respond to the emerging humanitarian needs, in particular as they relate to the water crisis.
In the immediate term, affordability is a key barrier facing vulnerable households in accessing clean water. Conditions of water and sanitation facilities in schools with the start of the new academic year is a key concern for Education Directorate officials in Basra. On a broader scale the Government of Iraq lacks the technical capacity to respond to the complexity and scale of the current water crisis. Specifically, reduction in water flow rates have resulted in saline incursion upstream beyond the directorate’s capacity.
Displacement and forced urban migration in marginalized areas is leading to heightened tensions and competition over resources such as water. If not addressed, this could give rise to further tribal disputes and become a key driver of conflict.
Many residents in Basra and in a village NRC visited on the outskirts of the city repeatedly told NRC that threatened livelihoods security of marginalized communities continues to fuel recruitment into armed military groups.
• The humanitarian community should immediately conduct a WASH response to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera. This can include interventions in schools, including public hygiene education programs, ahead of the start of the new academic year.
• The humanitarian community should immediately conduct multi-sectoral needs assessments to better understand both the root causes of recent social unrest and gradual displacement, as well as potential measures to prevent the spread of disease and further displacement in Basra and other southern governorates.
• Donors should support long-term efforts by the Iraqi government to improve water infrastructure by providing technical and financial support to line ministries. This can include scaling up support to the Ministry of Water Resources’ 20 Year Plan to bolster the country’s water infrastructure.
• The Iraqi government should develop a national water management policy that takes into account the country’s depleted water resources and reduction in water flow from neighbouring countries.