Although military operations against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been concluded and Iraq has entered a post-conflict recovery phase, in 2021 the country will likely continue facing challenges of addressing both the short and long-term consequences of mass population displacements, including restoring access to essential services and addressing basic needs in vast areas of territory. The Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) 2020 estimates that 2.3 million people across Iraq will remain in critical need of sustained, equitable access to safe and appropriate "Water, Sanitation Hygiene" (WASH) services. As outlined in the HNO, around 500,000 people continue to require some level of specialised WASH support in camps, especially since sanitation coverage is still below minimum standards. This is especially important, as water scarcity and rising salinity are increasingly understood to pose threats to human security and state stability in Iraq moving into 2021.
In Iraq, to provide a detailed evidence-base on needs, access to and functionality of WASH services and infrastructure, REACH has produced multiple remote sensing studies in 2020 that have identified longer term challenges to durable WASH solutions, such as a volatile water supply, water shortages, and flooding, raising a new set of cross-sectoral issues with implications for WASH interventions. Water shortages have been tied to major public health risks as highlighted in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP 2020) and may have a negative impact on sustainable livelihoods, agricultural lands, social tensions, and future displacement patterns.