Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development

The Steering Committee of the programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development held its first annual meeting in Erbil, on 17 April 2019. The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) with €47.5 million over 4 years, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The Steering Committee endorsed the programme’s workplan, identifying key priority projects to be implemented in nine Governorates: Anbar, Basra, Duhok, Erbil, Missan, Ninewah, Salah al-Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Thi Qar. The projects derived from the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans, developed under the flagship Local Area Development Programme (LADP II) that concluded in mid 2018.

The programme revolves around supporting the decentralization of powers from central to local authorities, including through the development of institutional capacities, the optimization of revenue generation systems, peer-to-peer partnerships with EU local authorities, and the empowerment of civil society to advocate for local development causes.

Minister of Planning at the Federal Government of Iraq, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, said: “Today, we endorsed a robust workplan addressing local priorities, such as decentralization, job creation and public services, in areas where needed most. With this endorsement, we renew our commitment to work closely with our strategic partners towards making sustainable, inclusive local development a reality.”

Minister of Planning at the Kurdistan Regional Government, Dr. Ali Sindi, noted: “Our past joint efforts under the EU-funded LADP II produced the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans. We are glad to be building upon this achievement, with the support of UNDP, to move to the next level of executing sustainable energy, environmental action and climate change adaptation initiatives.”

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Ramon Blecua, said:

The European Union continues to show its commitment in supporting local development in Iraq. The Steering Committee meeting held today, was a great opportunity to agree all together on concrete actions to be implemented at local level in the next months.

“I am happy to see this new programme in full implementation mode and look forward to its quick results, so to deliver services and livelihoods opportunities and make a difference in daily life of the Iraqi population.

Officer-in-Charge of UNDP Iraq, Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze, said:

“Under this EU-funded programme, we will do our utmost to help Iraqis in their pursuit of effective local governance for improved living conditions to all, especially the most vulnerable. This is of paramount importance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Iraq in the long run.”

Head of UNDP Office in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), Ms. Isabela Uribe, reiterated:

“I am more than glad that we are going local with practical solutions touching people’ s daily life. Thanks to the generosity of the EU, with ample cooperation of the federal and local authorities and the hard work of UNDP and UN-Habitat, an inclusive, transparent and cutting edge approach to local development is going to place citizens in the driving seat of a new social agenda.”

Under the new programme, UN-Habitat will contribute to the stability and socio-economic development of Iraq by improving living conditions and enhancing service delivery at the local level, through urban recovery investments and job opportunities in conflict-affected areas, and revenue generation in five governorates.

Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, a.i., Ms. Yuko Otsuki , stated that “immediate interventions will prioritize urban recovery activities, such as the rehabilitation of damaged housing and schools, repairs to secondary infrastructure through job creation and skill enhancement, and involving youth in the redesign and recovery of public spaces.”

A decision-making body, the Steering Committee is comprised of Iraq’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Ali Sindi, as well as the Governors of the aforementioned Governorates where the programme will be active. Members also include UNDP and UN-Habitat as implementing partners, along with the EU Head of Delegation and Delegation Cooperation Section as donor representatives.

Governorate representatives signed the Charter of Principles that sets out an agreed upon framework between each Governorate, UNDP and UN-Habitat. The framework defines roles and responsibilities and will govern the implementation of the programme.

The programme fact sheet can be downloaded through this link: https://bit.ly/2Wlw17e.

(Source: UN)

UK International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP has visited Baghdad for a three-day visit (Sunday, 14 April to Tuesday, 16 April 2019) where he met with the Iraqi Prime Minister and announced that UK Export Finance (UKEF) will make an additional £1 billion of support available for British firms operating in Iraq, providing jobs and promoting stability in the region.

In the first visit to Iraq by a cabinet minister for more than a year, Dr Fox will be meeting with senior Iraqis including the Prime Minister and President to discuss the bilateral trading relationship.

Alongside the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mehdi, the Trade Secretary announced that UK Export Finance is making an additional £1 billion available to support UK exports to Iraq, bringing its total support for the country to £2 billion.

The measure is designed to promote Iraq’s economic development and nation-building, ensuring that UKEF can continue to help the Government of Iraq deliver critical infrastructure.

To date, UKEF has deployed its existing capacity for Iraq, providing around £1 billion in support for projects including:

  • A US$35 million (£26 million) loan for the scoping phase of a water and wastewater treatment project in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq provided by UK company Biwater
  • US$1.02 billion (£770 million) to support Enka UK and GE to build 2 new gas-fired power stations in the Basra region and UK-based GE Grid Solutions to build and refurbish 14 electricity sub-stations across Iraq
  • support for a €30.2 million (£26 million) Siemens UK contract to refurbish the 320-megawatt Al Mussaib power station in southern Iraq
  • a loan to support a US$220 million (£169 million) contract being undertaken by a UK subsidiary of GE to refurbish gas-fired power stations

This support is available to UK companies selling to Iraq or investing in the country and will help the Government of Iraq access finance for projects that source goods and services from the UK.

The International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said:

The atmosphere in Baghdad is one of optimism – it is a country which is having an increasingly stable period at a time of significant unrest in the wider region. The British government, working closely with the UK private sector and our Iraqi partners, have a key role to play in the country’s long-term prosperity. The £1 billion we have announced today will significantly strengthen our ability to do just that.

“Iraq’s future is bright, and my international economic department will continue to work tirelessly to ensure it maintains this stability, allowing the hard work of its talented citizens to flourish for the benefit of all.

“Trade is about more than economic self-interest, it is the means through which we deliver the mutual prosperity that underpins our collective security. That is the true prize of trade policy and promotion done right.

During the visit, the Trade Secretary will speak to young Iraqi entrepreneurs who are working to create a more vibrant private sector to support the long-term stabilisation and prosperity of Iraq. He will also meet British firms operating in-country whose investments are vital in the country’s rebuilding efforts.

Siemens UK is improving the electricity supply in Iraq using UKEF finance. Steve Scrimshaw, Country Lead, Gas and Power UK and Ireland, Siemens UK, said:

We are delighted this additional funding has been made available for ongoing regeneration in Iraq and look forward to working with UKEF and the Iraqi government on future opportunities.

“Siemens has already benefited from UKEF support for work on the refurbishment of the Al Mussaib power plant. This will be vital for the people of Iraq who will benefit from both the power and the jobs it will create. With work being delivered from our Newcastle business, it is also helping to secure jobs in the UK.

(Source: UK FCO)

The Iranian president’s chief of staff said Tehran and Baghdad have agreed to establish five joint industrial parks, including one in Iran’s border province of Kurdistan.

Speaking at a meeting on economic development of Kurdistan in the city of Sanandaj on Saturday, Mahmoud Vaezi said Iran and Iraq have devised plans to set up five joint industrial parks.

One of them is scheduled to be built in the province of Kurdistan, he added.

Iran is the top exporter of goods to Iraq, Vaezi said, noting that Iraq and its Kurdistan Region provide a perfect opportunity for Iran to boost exports and deal with the cruel US sanctions.

During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Iraq in March, the two countries signed five deals to promote cooperation in various fields.

The documents entail cooperation between Iran and Iraq concerning the Basra-Shalamcheh railroad project, visa facilitation for investors, cooperation in the health sector, and agreements between the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran and Ministry of Trade of Iraq, and another one in the field of oil between the petroleum ministries of the two countries.

Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani has said that Tehran and Baghdad have agreed to reach the target of raising the value of annual trade exchange to $20 billion within two years.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

WHO sends shipment of kits and medical supplies to Missan governorate

Responding to the needs of the Directorate of Health in Missan following the recent floods that hit the area, the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the generous support of donors, sent a large consignment of emergency kits and medical supplies to support the Directorate, 304 kilometres south east of Baghdad.

WHO and Missan Directorate of Health staff witness firsthand the damage caused by floodingMissan was adversely affected by the floods which were caused by heavy rain and floods from the border with Islamic Republic of Iran. The flood water is covering a wide area of land, which has led to the migration of residents, damage to property, death of livestock and destruction of agricultural crops in many villages and marshlands.

About 328 726 population are at risk. Cities and villages affected are: Ali al-Gharbi, al-Msharrah, Hay al-Mua’alemeen al-Jadeed, al-Salam, al-Faka, al-Btaira, al-Teeb, al-Adil, al-Maymouna, al-Uzair and al-Kahlaa. Areas seriously threatened are villages west of the Tigris River (Hor Al-Musandak) along Ali al-Gharbi, Ali al-Sharqi and Qamit. 545 families are displaced with another 2000 families threatened with displacement.

The Government coordinated multisectoral efforts, supervised and supported relief operations, established 5 camps, and coordinated with Iraqi Army forces and civil defense to send helicopters to evacuate people trapped in flooded areas. With the situation quickly evolving, 101 families in some villages were evacuated to a camp in a neighbouring village.

Adham Ismail, acting WHO Representative in Iraq, said:

In response to the crisis, the WHO country office in Iraq has been coordinating very closely with the Missan Directorate of Health. WHO kept high level coordination and collaboration with the Directorate of Health in Missan through medical operations and specialized services.

“WHO acted promptly in responding to monitoring the floods and receiving regular reports, it assessed water quality and access to clean water and monitored cases of acute diarrhoea. Further, WHO has shared information with the Development Coordination Office at UNAMI and all United Nations partner agencies in Basra, particularly with UNICEF – Water and Sanitation Unit, and supported the Directorate with 30 Basic Interagency Emergency Health Kit and trauma kits to cover a population of 100 000 for one month. WHO will continue its efforts in monitoring the flood and health situation in Missan.

Officials at Missan Directorate of Health stressed that the shipment would save lives in the governorate and could be used by mobile clinics offering emergency health care and services to affected people. They expressed appreciation to WHO and donors for their quick response and support.

The consignment included supplementary module pharmaceutical kits, supplementary module equipment, renewable kits, trauma profile/emergency kits, medical supplies, and basic units (without a malaria component).

(Source: WHO)

By John Lee.

Philippines-based International Terminal Container Services Inc. (ICTSI) has reportedly allocated additional funds for capacity expansion at its Basra Gateway Terminal (BGT) at the Port of Umm Qasr.

Rafael Consing, ICTSI chief financial officer, is quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as saying that this year’s capex budget of $380 million will be invested at its four ports in Manila, Mexico, Honduras, and Iraq.

(Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi said he hopes the United States will keep waiving sanctions on energy imports from neighboring Iran, noting that the Arab country will need to purchase electricity from the Islamic Republic for three years.

In November last year, Washington granted a 45-day waiver on electricity to the Arab country and extended it by 90 days in December after US President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed sanctions on Iran in May, following walking out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Earlier this month, the US State Department extended the 90-day waiver for the second time to let Iraq continue energy imports from Iran. The original exemption granted in December expired on March 19.

“Hopefully this waiver will be extended until Iraq can stand on its feet economically,” said Halbusi at the US Institute of Peace on a visit to Washington, where he met senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.

Iraq is the biggest importer of electricity from Iran. It needs more than 23,000 megawatts of electricity to meet its domestic demand but years of war following the 2003 US invasion have left its power infrastructure in tatters and a deficit of some 7,000 megawatts.

“After these three years, maybe we can see Iraq as economically independent and we won’t need to import power or electricity from a foreign country. Maybe we can address this issue after three years,” he added, Press TV reported.

At a press conference held after his speech, Halbusi warned Washington of the negative effect of “any hasty, uncalculated step to adopt policies and procedures against countries in this region.”

The electricity shortfall in the war-torn country is especially acute in the sweltering summers, which led to violent protests in Basra in September and turned into a national crisis.

Iraq’s electricity demand is expected to increase again this summer and any cuts in Iranian supplies are set to trigger more protests and reignite unrest, destabilizing the Arab country.

In addition to natural gas and electricity, Iraq imports a wide range of goods from Iran including food, agricultural products, home appliances, and air conditioners.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iraq announced on Thursday the completion of the “technical preparations” to extend a pipeline to export one million barrels of oil per day through Jordan, Petra has reported.

“The export capacity of the Basra-Aqaba pipeline, which runs through Jordan, is expected to reach one million barrels per day (bpd),” Iraqi oil minister, Thamir Al-Ghadhban, said in a statement.

Al-Ghadhban explained that Iraq had completed the planning arrangements of the pipeline’s construction work. “The arrangements included its [the pipeline’s] track, components, absorptive capacity, the mechanisms of linking it to the northern Kirkuk oil fields, funding sources, and implementation and operational means,” he said.

The Iraqi official stressed that his country was only depending on the southern portal city of Basra for oil exports, noting that the ministry has prepared “a major plan for its rehabilitation and development with the aim to increase its export capacity levels.”

The government, Al-Ghadhban pointed out, plans to establish three linked crude oil exporting ports.

Baghdad and Amman recently concluded six bilateral agreements to develop their relations, most notably in the oil and energy sectors. The two governments said the agreements aimed at “revitalising” their economies and strengthening ties between Iraq and Jordan.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)

EU-funded programme launched in Iraq to support recovery and stability through local development

The European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) continue to work together to help the people of Iraq in their pursuit of recovery and stability.

On 28 March 2019, representatives of federal and local authorities, community leaders, non-governmental organizations, businesses, academia, as well as implementing partners, gathered in the city of Basra, South of Iraq, to launch a new programme.

With EU funding of €47.5 million over 4 years, the programme aims at supporting the implementation of local priority actions, derived from the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans developed under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP II), that address the top priorities of each governorate and pilot ways to translate policy into practice.

In addition, supporting the decentralization of powers from central to local authorities, including through the development of institutional capacities, the optimization of revenue generation systems, peer-to-peer partnerships with EU local authorities, the empowerment of civil society to advocate for local development causes, mobilization of additional resources, and improvement of donor coordination will be part of the activities.

Minister of Planning at the Federal Government of Iraq, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, said:

“Iraqi communities are eager to recover after years of conflict and instability. And, we are doing our utmost to address their needs. Development at the local level is a step in the right direction. We are grateful that the EU, UNDP and UN-Habitat stand right by us in this difficult time.”

Governor of Basra, Mr. Asaad Al Eidani, stated:

“The people of Basra and other governorates across our country have rightful demands. They need adequate public services, plenty of jobs, and all the help they can get to build a better life for them and their children. We are committed to working closely with our government, local communities, and partners to maximize the impact of this new EU-funded programme and may be replicate with our own funds.”

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Ramon Blecua, said:

“The European Union is strongly committed to assist the Government of Iraq in its efforts to shape a more inclusive and accountable local development. This new EU-funded program will ensure better services and livelihoods opportunities for the Iraqi population, responding to the urgent needs affecting Basra and other Governorates across the country.”

Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Marta Ruedas, reiterated:

“Creating job opportunities, improving living conditions, upgrading public services, and integrating eco-friendly practices are some of our top priorities when it comes to local development in Iraq. Women and youth are an integral part in this process. The EU support represents a lifeline for communities struggling to make ends meet, as well as to promote good governance at the local level.”

Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, a.i., Ms. Yuko Otsuki, thanked the European Union for its generous contribution to the urban recovery in Iraq, and stated:

“UN-Habitat will implement priority urban recovery activities, such as the rehabilitation of housing, schools, and public spaces, repairs to secondary infrastructure, job creation, skill enhancement, and revenue generation.”

Ms. Otsuki assured that UN-Habitat is committed to continue working, to promote recovery, resilience and reconstruction in Iraq.

The programme will help the Government of Iraq to strengthen the efficiency of the country’s institutions and renew the social contract between citizens and the state. It revolves around improving the ability of selected governorates to efficiently manage local government and public services. Economic growth and job creation are prioritized, with a focus on green projects involving youth and women, in addition to enhancing the living conditions of returnees and in conflict affected areas.

Building upon the momentum created by the recently concluded LADP II, the programme will be implemented in the following nine Governorates: Anbar, Basra, Duhok, Erbil, Missan, Ninewah, Salah al-Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Thi Qar.

(Source: UN)

IBBC Spring Conference 2019

Iraq – Financing a Modern Economy

10 April, The Mansion House, London

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) invites you to attend its Ninth Annual Conference at the Mansion House on the 10th of April. This year’s conference is organised in partnership with the Central Bank of Iraq and the Iraqi Private Banking League.

With a strong focus on the Iraqi banking sector, two sessions of the conference will be devoted to financial sector issues. Other areas will focus on building human capital in the public and private sector and on oil & gas.

Christophe Michels, Managing Director of IBBC states:

“The security situation in Iraq is now much improved, with a new Government in place that has a clear mandate from the people to improve governance and to provide important basic utilities. IBBC is the Iraqi Governments private sector partner of choice for developing the private sector in Iraq. We firmly believe that only private enterprise can meet the challenges facing Iraq by developing a modern economy”.

H.E. Dr Fuad Hussein, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance will lead a high level delegation alongside Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, officials from the Central Bank of Iraq, a delegation from the Iraq Private Banks League and the Governors of Erbil, Sulamania and Karbala. A large delegation of Iraqi Businessmen from all governorates of the country will also be in attendance.

Round-table discussions will take place with Iraqi officials, including the Iraqi Governors, where delegates can engage in concentrated debates on country specific issues. As well as specific round-tables on Tech in Iraq and Women’s Group.

Dr Mehdi Al Alak, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers will present a paper on ‘Private Sector Development and Investment in Iraq‘. Delegates will receive an exclusive insight into the Government’s planned measures and strategies to realise this ambition. There will also be special presentations by the Central Bank of Iraq and Basra Gas Company.

Dr Renad Mansour, Research Fellow at Chatham House and the preeminent voice on Iraq in the UK is publishing a briefing paper specifically for the IBBC conference, discussing the short to medium term economic and political outlook for Iraq.

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, President of IBBC and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan & Kazakhstan will open the conference, alongside The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, H.E. Dr Fuad Hussein, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Jon Wilks CMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Iraq and Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of UK Export Finance (UKEF).

Conference Sessions & Speakers

The Banking Sector in Iraq

Chair: Gavin Wishart, Shire Oak International

Panellists: Dr Mazen Sabeh Ahmed, Central Bank of Iraq; Mohammed Delaimy, Standard Chartered Bank; UK Export Finance (UKEF); Ali Tariq Mostaf, Iraq Private Banking League; Richard Wilkins, JP Morgan

Stock Marker & Investment Opportunities

Chair: John Kemkers, Eversheds Sutherland (tbc)

Panellists: Shwan Ibrahim Taham, Iraqi Stock Exchange; Dr Alaa Abdel Hussein Al Saadi, Iraqi Securities Commission; London Stock Exchange (tbc)

Oil & Gas

Chair: Prof. Frank Gunter, Lehigh University

Panellists: Dr Mark Wharton, Shell; Lawrence Coleman BP; Bob Dastmalchi, Chevron

Capacity Building in Iraq

Chair: Ambassador Stuart Jones, Bechtel

Panellists: Dr Renad Mansour, Chatham House; Prof. Mohammed Al-Uzri, University of Leicester; Samer Al Mafraji, AMS Iraq

Dr Mai Yamani will be presenting the closing remarks for this important event.

Join IBBC, its members and the international business and finance community for a full agenda of expert speakers, UK & Iraqi politicians and many networking and business development opportunities.

You can register and purchase tickets via the IBBC website: https://www.iraqbritainbusiness.org/event/spring-conference-at-the-mansion-house

The conference is being generously supported and sponsored by Shell, Rolls-Royce, Standard Chartered Bank and Eversheds Sutherland.

For more information email london@webuildiraq.org or telephone 020 7222 7100.

(Source: IBBC)

By Hussein Al-alak. Republished with permission.

Read All About It! The humble book is helping rebuild lives in Iraq

To mark World Book Day, the UK-based charity, the AMAR International Charitable Foundation published these photographs from their school in Basra, Iraq. Each uplifting image demonstrates how AMAR is making positive changes to the lives of Iraqi children, through the power of the written word.

The School for Orphans was built in 2016 and up to 30% of the children who attend have lost both parents to war or disease. The school has modern facilities and provides a broad curriculum, so children get the best start in life. One of their main focuses is on reading.

The AMAR Foundation builds and rehabilitates educational facilities across Iraq, ensuring access to safe, clean classrooms and provides additional infrastructure, so the overall experience for children is conducive to successful learning.

According to the National Literary Trust and Manchester City Council, “Every community faces different challenges and we need local solutions.” For example, “reading for 10 minutes every day can help you relax, learn and feel good.”

By reading, we improve our literacy levels, increase educational achievements and future employment skills, along with improving our own health and social skills. As Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once stated: “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. A love of books is the best of all.”

From Manchester to Iraq – building a global village in education

AMAR is rebuilding the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in Iraq. With Manchester being home to almost 20,000 Iraqi ex-patriates – many of whom escaped from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein – it’s the natural choice to be one of the charity’s first UK appeals centres.

The most recent Iraqi refugees are following in the footsteps of literary giants, such as poet Siegfried Sassoon, whose family arrived in Manchester from Basra in 1858. The British-Lebanese historian Albert Hourani, who was born in Manchester in 1915. His book, A History of the Arab Peoples, was described by Harvard University Press as being “an instant classic upon publication”.

Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Iraq’s refugee children were keen visitors to school libraries across the city. Their parents saw it as a means of improving the youngsters’ spoken and written English, thus helping them to integrate into British daily life.

In 2018, Iraqi students at the University of Manchester collected around 1.000 books as part of the international efforts to re-stock the University of Mosul, which was destroyed whilst the city was under the occupation of Islamic State.

AMAR was founded in 1991 and is chaired by Baroness (Emma) Nicholson of Winterbourne. From 1923-1940, David Lindsay – the 27th Earl of Crawford and the grandfather of Baroness Nicholson – was also chancellor of the University of Manchester.

On the 19th May, AMAR supporters are taking part in the Manchester 10K, where they will be supporting the charity’s efforts in education across Iraq. Since its foundation, more than 5 million Iraqi children and adults have benefited from its services in education.

If you wish to learn more about AMAR’s work, please check out www.amarfoundation.org or you can support AMAR’s work in Iraq, by making a solidarity donation online.

Hussein Al-alak is the editor of Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra) and on the 19th May, will be taking part on the Manchester 10K, to support the AMAR Foundation’s work in education across Iraq.