UN-Iraq reconstruction and development update May 2005


As part of the United Nation's contribution to the nationwide reconstruction and development of Iraq, the UN Country Team (UNCT) in collaboration with the Iraqi authorities, the private sector and NGO partners, have taken a lead role in the delivery of goods and services, and the strengthening of national capacity from both inside and outside Iraq.

Coordinated through the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the UNCT has employed a "cluster" approach to its reconstruction and development programmes as presented in the Joint UN-Iraq Assistance Strategy 2005 - 2007. This cluster approach has proven instrumental in ensuring the UNCT addresses the priorities indicated in the strategy in an integrated fashion.

The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Iraq Ashraf Qazi recently met with the Prime Minister of Iraq to reiterate the readiness of the UN to support the Iraqi government and people. (Click here for press release)

Governance and Human Development

Working in close collaboration with key line ministries as well as media institutions, NGOs and civil society organisations, the UNCT made a number of key contributions to the long term goal of strengthening public institutions to become efficient, transparent and accountable, while raising awareness on the fundamental issues influencing human development in Iraq.

The Iraq Living Conditions Survey 2004: The Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation, in cooperation with UNDP launched the results of this comprehensive survey which canvassed 22,000 households across all 18 Governorates.

The report was compiled according to international standards for statistical reporting, and two questionnaires formed the basis for research. The first was completed by all members of the surveyed households; while the second was specifically for women in the households aged between 15 and 54 years. The questionnaires addressed issues of housing, infrastructure, demographics, health, education, employment and income.

The key socio-economic results of the survey indicated that many Iraqis show tremendous courage and determination in the face of deteriorating physical and social conditions. Whilst a large majority of the population were connected to water, electricity and sewage networks, this supply was too unstable to have a positive impact on their lives. Illiteracy among the young generation was rising in a population where almost 39% is under 15 years. Almost a quarter of children between six months and five years were malnourished. The unemployment rate was 37% for young men with a secondary or higher level of education.

It is envisaged that the survey will serve as an important reference tool for Iraqi policy makers as well as partners involved in the ongoing reconstruction and development of Iraq. The report consists of three volumes, namely: a Tabulation Report, an Analytical Report and a Socio-Economic Atlas. These are available in English and Arabic at

Celebrating World Press Freedom Day: On 3rd May, World Press Freedom Day was celebrated in Baghdad with a seminar organised by the Iraqi Journalists Union (IJU) and the College of Information of Baghdad University. UNESCO/EAD provided financial and technical support to this event, which included participants from the Iraqi National Communication and Media Commission (INCMC), the Ministry of Human Rights, senior journalists from Iraqi press and broadcast media, as well as representatives from various Iraqi civil society organisations.

Among the issues discussed was the constant security threats faced by journalists in the course of their work. Other issues included the impact of the dissolution of the Information Ministry in Iraq, resulting in over 7,000 employees forced out of work, bans imposed on some newspapers and raids on newspaper offices. However, there was also recognition that after two years of press chaos in Iraq, there was some room for optimism. Some newspapers had managed to establish themselves, winning the trust of a broader readership.

Marking World Press Freedom Day in such a manner was warmly acknowledged by the seminar participants who recognised the importance of having continuous efforts to protect the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Iraq.

Launching the Iraqis Rebuilding Iraq (IRI) Website: During May, the IRI official website was launched by The Ministry of Development Cooperation with support from UNDP and IOM. The website is part of the wider IRI programme which offers expatriate Iraqis with suitable professional experience the possibility to undertake short-term assignments of up to one year in Iraq. These IRI experts, proficient in Arabic and Kurdish, are highly motivated and committed to serve Iraq in their profession. The programme matches applications with available employment opportunities within Iraqi ministries and public institutions.

The website address is providing interested Iraqi expatriate candidates with the opportunity to download an IRI application form and submit it electronically. Dozens of Iraqi associations based in neighbouring countries as well as in Europe and North America were contacted as part of the ongoing IRI information campaign. The IRI Support Centre in Amman started to receive queries and completed application forms from potential candidates and in Baghdad the IRI Support Cell had registered over 100 requests from participating ministries looking for Iraqi experts.

Other Accomplishments:

  • Two meetings were held with Iraqi and international experts to develop a legal framework and to discuss information management; as a step in establishing a National Centre for Missing and Disappeared Persons - UNDP.

  • The National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) work plan and budget for 2006 was developed - UNDP

Agriculture, Food Security, Environment and Natural Resources Management

As part of the overall cluster objective, the UNCT is striving to ensure the country's natural resources are effectively managed and that sustainable and environmentally sound development is promoted.

FAO and the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) underlined their flexible and adaptable cooperation in the management of water resources projects aimed at improving drainage conditions in major agricultural areas. After FAO completed the comprehensive technical dossier for the Ramadi Drain Project (RDP) and prepared a US $ 2.2 million contract for the rehabilitation work, the MoWR requested that FAO embark on the Hilla - Hashimia Drain Project. Subsequently, FAO were able to reorient their focus to preparing the technical dossier for the Hilla - Hashimia Drain contract, and the MoWR were able to use the FAO study and survey to issue a contract for the Ramadi Drain works.

The cluster team was dealing with environmental issues encountered in the Iraqi Marshlands. As a result of altered water flow, untreated waste disposal, agricultural run off, salination and pollution, large parts of the Iraqi Marshlands suffered from environmental degradation. Aside from educating Iraqis how to better protect and live in this unique environment, specific technical rehabilitation of the Marshlands is required.

UNEP continued to develop the Marshlands Information Network and organised a five day workshop at the end of May in Jordan for Iraqi government officials to be trained on artificial wetland construction and rehabilitation techniques. A complementary workshop supported by UNESCO on water resource management took place in Egypt for 23 engineers from the MoWR. Technical instruction was given on the control and maintenance of aquatic weeds and their effect on water flow.

UNESCO also supported the participation of six Directors from the MoWR on a seven day study tour to Egypt. The visit to the 'Friend Nile' project exposed the Iraqi participants to the type of regional cooperation in water resource management which is relevant in the water planning sector in Iraq.

Other Accomplishments:

  • Comprehensive agricultural supplies worth US $ 5.2 million were procured and were ready for distribution to faming communities - FAO.

  • Purchase orders worth US $ 1.2 million were issued for parts to repair two water pumping stations - FAO.

  • Urgent equipment and supplies worth US $ 1.5 million for essential livestock services were procured - FAO.

  • 35 MoA staff participated in the third module of the Change Management System for the Restoration of Veterinary Services - FAO.

  • 29 rural development experts were following a 2-month training course in Morocco on cottage industries, and preparatory work started on the rehabilitation of two selected training centres - FAO / UNIDO.

  • An assessment of dairy plants was ongoing in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry and the MoA - UNIDO.

  • The project document for the Date Palm Sector Project was under review with the MoA - FAO / UNIDO.

  • 2,227,141 squared metres of contaminated land was cleared of explosive ordnance devices - UNDP.

Health and Nutrition

Working primarily with the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) to implement the National Health Strategy, the UNCT continued to make significant contributions to meeting basic needs and supporting nutritional interventions.

WHO delivered 19 ambulances to MoH Baghdad medical facilities as a step towards strengthening the health care referral system in Iraq, allowing patients get to the health care services they need, faster.

A malaria and Leishmanisis preventative spraying and fogging campaign was ongoing throughout the country. This MoH activity, with WHO backing represents a cost-effective measure to control both of these life-affecting diseases.

WHO supported the MoEn, the MoH and the Ministry of Education (MoE) with four training courses in Iraq for primary school teachers on the environment and safe water education. The Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works (MoMPW) held a second national training course in Iraq on water quality control for 20 laboratory technicians coming from different governorates.

The Nutrition Research Institute and the State Company for Geological Surveillance Mining, and Industrial Development, in collaboration with UNICEF, conducted the first regional seminar for the salt production sector. This was part of ongoing support to universal salt iodization in Iraq as a way to combat micronutrient deficiency. Participants were exposed to all related Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) technical details, IDD regulations, health inspection procedures and other related issues. Additionally, the National Plan for Wheat Flour Fortification was finalized and the last tranche of wheat flour feeders was delivered to Baghdad. UNICEF supported the training of nine Iraqi engineers in Jordan on the installation of these feeders. In total 215 feeders were delivered by UNICEF in 2004, destined for installation in a total of 180 wheat flour mills throughout the country.

WHO conducted a Research Methodology Workshop for the National Program for Mental Health providing 20 Iraqi mental health professionals with training in psychiatric research methodologies. The workshop which took place in Jordan was a launch of 20 one-year research projects to look at mental health issues in Iraq.

A first WHO/MoH National Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) Case Management Training Course took place in Jordan. 24 Iraqi physicians participated on the course designed to teach clinical skills on integrated management of healthy children, build capacity of national facilitators, and test the adapted Iraqi training modules.

28 Iraqi representatives from key line ministries, professional bodies, academia and the pharmaceutical sector, participated in the WHO / MoH National Drug Supply Management and Quantification Workshop. Participants had the opportunity to enhance their capacity and skills related to drug supply management and the rational use of drugs at different levels of the Iraqi health care system.

As part of an initiative to address the potential risks associated with depleted uranium (DU) contamination in Iraq, UNEP is supporting the Ministry of the Environment (MoEn) with a request for an environmental impact assessment on DU contamination. DU is found in munitions and defensive armour plating as well as in medical radiation shields and containers used in the transportation of radioactive materials. At the request of the MoEn, UNEP, WHO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) organised a seminar and technical workshop in Jordan during which 16 MoEn staff began initial training to detect and conduct preliminary assessments on DU contamination.

WFP provided food aid to primary schools and health facilities as a support to vulnerable groups. Accordingly, the MoH were assisted in implementing supplementary feeding activities in 201 health facilities in 36 districts. A total of 11,415 metric tonnes of supplementary food commodities were delivered to Iraq and distributions were ongoing to malnourished children under 5; pregnant and nursing mothers; and TB patients. Additionally, the distribution of 7, 781 metric tonnes of high energy biscuits to children in 2,474 primary schools was completed in May.

Brief Highlights from Other Clusters

Education and Culture

  • The procurement of education kits for a total of 4.3 million students was ongoing - UNICEF.

  • The rehabilitation of 42 schools and the rehabilitation of water and sanitation facilities of a further 335 schools continued - UNICEF.

  • The rehabilitation of 76 educational facilities was ongoing, with a further 158 facilities already completed. Currently, over 6,000 daily employment opportunities were generated per day - UN-HABITAT.

  • 1,200 MoE staff members were identified for a three-level computer training course. To date 936 people participated in 94 such courses - UNICEF.

  • A needs assessment on literacy and life skills development was ongoing in 5 Governorates - UNESCO.

  • 20 vehicles were delivered to the Iraqi National Museum to help safe guard heritage sites - UNESCO. Infrastructure Rehabilitation

  • 20 engineers and technicians from the water supply directorates of 4 southern Governorates were trained on Reverse Osmosis Technology to convert saline or brackish water into safe water - UNICEF.

  • 44 reverse osmosis plants were undergoing installation and a further 22 were already functioning - UNICEF.

  • Two water treatment plants and one compact unit were rehabilitated - UNICEF.

  • An estimated total of 1.4 million cubic metres of materiel was dredged from the approach channel to Um Qasr Seaport with two dredging machines working on this operation - UNDP.

  • Extensive rehabilitation of the dredging fleet was ongoing - UNDP.

  • The rehabilitation of 295 houses was ongoing, with a further 200 houses already completed as part of a project o assist vulnerable families in run down urban houses - UN-HABITAT.

  • 263 Inhabitant Surveys and Slum Rapid Assessments were completed in 25 Iraqi cities as a contribution to a strategic plan for a housing finance system to assist vulnerable groups - UN-HABITAT.

  • 14 staff from the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works (MoMPW) took part in an Urban Planning Workshop, and 15 staff from the same ministry received training on Geographical Information Systems (GIS); as part of a capacity building programme with the MoMPW - UN-HABITAT.

Refugees, IDPs and Durable Solutions
  • A vendor database was established to secure procurement procedures for implementing partners - UNHCR.

  • Office equipment was provided to offices of the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Humanitarian Aid and Cooperation in two Northern Governorates - UNHCR.

  • Legal aid centres assisted 149 families with advice related to ID cards, nationality certificates, marriage certificates and food ration cards - UNHCR.

  • Sheep and beehives were distributed to 23 female and disabled person headed households - UNOPS.

  • 85 trainees graduated from various vocational schemes on hairdressing, sewing, and mechanics - UNOPS.

UNAMI: Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil/Iraq; Amman/Jordan; Kuwait City/Kuwait

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