JICA (Japan) and UNDP Partnership Agreement to Accelerate the Projects for Socio-Economic Development in Iraq

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNDP announced a renewed agreement and commemorated the 10th anniversary for their partnership to accelerate the implementation of socio-economic infrastructure projects in Iraq to improve the economic recovery and living condition of Iraqi people in key sectors such as electricity, water and sanitation, oil, irrigation, transportation, industry, health and communication. The GoI welcomes the reinforced partnership between JICA and UNDP.

Since 2008, JICA has signed 31 loan agreements, total amount of which is JPY 830 billion (equivalent to USD 7.7 billion), with Iraqi Government for economic and social infrastructure projects and programs in Iraq to improve daily lives of Iraqi people. In order to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in project implementation, the Government of Iraq (GoI) and the Government of Japan/JICA jointly established a monitoring mechanism called Monitoring Committee (M/C) in 2008. UNDP has undertaken the supporting role to assist and advise the M/C based on the partnership agreement between JICA and UNDP.

Under this partnership, UNDP has been working alongside JICA and the Government of Iraq (GoI) on project monitoring and capacity development. UNDP identifies bottlenecks pertaining to project implementation, providing analyses and recommendations for action on cross-cutting issues to the M/C to accelerate project implementation.

The M/C is the longest continual committee in the GoI system as the 43rd M/C Meeting was held on 4th July 2019 in Baghdad with Iraqi ministries to update the progress and find the solutions for challenges that the projects face in order to accelerate the project implementation and deliver the public services to the Iraqi people.

The GoI, JICA and UNDP reconfirm all parties’ continual efforts to enhance this tripartite collaboration mechanism to expedite the improvement of national strategic infrastructures, which will contribute to better public services as well as to the private sector development for more and better job opportunities.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

In its preliminary results for 2018, Petrel Resources gave the following update on its activities in Iraq:

We had high hopes of commercial success in Iraq. It has the best oil geology on the planet with drilling success over 90% and a $2 to 4 a barrel production cost. But the political risk offsets all of this.

Petrel first entered Iraq in 1997 and had initial success in obtaining a large exploration block in the Western Desert between Baghdad and Amman Jordan. We were seeking development rights to any one of the many proven but undeveloped oil fields but we needed to establish our credentials. We undertook exploration work but were frustrated by sanctions which stopped us from drilling.

We continued involvement with the Iraqi Oil Ministry and undertook extensive technical work, with Itochu of Japan on the Merjan oil field.

Post 2003 we were awarded a development contract on the Subba and Luhais oil fields. Bureaucratic interference and payment problems forced Petrel to sell out in 2010.

We maintained our interest and appointed an Iraqi Arman Kayablian to work in Iraq. We purchased a 20% stake in Amira Hydrocarbon which had joint operations with Oryx Petroleum, in the Wasit province.  The joint venture failed to obtain a licence. In 2018 the agreement was dissolved and some 20 million Petrel shares returned to the company.

We have recently appointed Riadh Mahmoud Hameed to the Petrel board. Riadh worked as project co-ordinator for six years for Petrel in Iraq.

Activities are normalising in Iraq. There are many oil projects in Iraq which need to be developed. Petrel will be making a case to be part of the development.

Interest is reviving in Iraq. We now have the people to seek out operations on the ground.  

(Source: Petrel Resources)

JICA to Support Iraq’s Reconstruction and Revitalization through Upgrade of Basrah Refinery

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement for Iraq

On 16 June, 2019, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Iraqi Government signed a loan agreement at Ministry of Finance in Baghdad.

The ODA (Official Development Assistance) loan amounting to JPY 110,000 million (approximately USD 1 billion) will be used for Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project. The loan agreement was signed by H.E. Mr. Fuad Mohammed Hussein, Minister of Finance and Masayuki Hirosawa, Chief Representative of JICA Iraq Office, in the presence of H.E. Mr. Hamid Younis Salih, Deputy Minister of Oil and H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Japanese Ambassador to Iraq. This concessional ODA loan aims to support the Government of Iraq in its efforts to reconstruct the country and revitalize its economy.

The loan named “Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project (II)” is the second tranche loan for Basrah Refinery Upgrading Project, one of the mega projects known in the region. For the same project, JICA previously concluded two loan agreements for (i) the engineering services loan in the amount of JPY 2,079 million and (ii) the first tranche loan in the amount of JPY 42,435 million.

The entire project aims to increase the quantity and quality of oil products including gasoline, diesel and kerosene, by installing a new refining plant called Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Complex in Basrah Refinery, which is one of the biggest oil refineries currently operational in Iraq. It will be implemented by South Refineries Company, Ministry of Oil.

Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest proven oil reserves and is currently OPEC’s second-largest producer. Nevertheless, most of the existing refineries in the country have been shut down or decreased their production capacity, suffered from damages and deterioration in the previous decades of conflicts. Many of the plans to construct new refineries have faced with challenges and delays and are yet to achieve substantial increase of the refining capacity.

On the contrary, the ongoing reconstruction efforts in liberated areas and the revitalization of socio-economic activities across the country have prompted huge demand for fuels, such as gasoline and diesel. As a result, despite being one of the largest oil producers, Iraq has no choice but to import the significant amount of oil products from neighboring countries so as to meet the demand for transport, power generation and industrial production.

Against this backdrop, the project to construct Iraq’s first-ever FCC Complex will increase the volume of the high-value added oil products, promote the transfer of refining technologies from Japan and help save valuable foreign currencies to import huge amount of fuels. The new plant will also reduce sulfur content in the products in accordance with the international environmental standards. Furthermore, the project is expected to pave the way for energizing private sector involvement in the downstream of Iraq’s energy industry and provide economic opportunities for the people of Iraq, especially in Basrah.

The loan is very concessional with the low interest rate and long repayment period: the interest rate of 0.20% and the repayment period of 40 years including 10-year grace period.

(Source: JICA)

Toyota Iraq, UNDP and Oxfam support technical training for sustainable livelihoods Celebrating the graduation of 16 IDP’s in automotive mastery

Toyota Iraq, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxfam celebrated the graduation of 16 young trainees from the Toyota Technical Development Program Training. This group is the 5th batch of internal displaced people (IDPs) who have successfully completed Toyota certified training.

Through an on-going partnership, Toyota Iraq has contributed to the people and society of Iraq by successfully training 53 young men and women in automotive mastery, customer service and skills and spare parts. This training batch was the biggest in size, as well as in duration – with training commencing on 17th of February and concluding on 30th of May.

The extensive 3 months of continuous training delivered not only technical knowledge but also introduced the ‘Toyota Way’ and our corporate shared values, followed by inclusive technical training and an on-the-job experience for one month at Toyota Authorized Dealers in Erbil, Cihan Motors and SAS Automotive.

The successful collaboration of program partners – UNDP, OXFAM, the Government of Japan and Toyota Iraq, ensured that the latest training cohort were all able to complete training and receive recognition at Tuesday’s graduation ceremony.

Mr. Sardar Al.Bebany, president, Toyota Iraq, said:

“This program is one of the ways we provide support to local society. Through this program I have witnessed that when IDP’s are given equal opportunity for employment, they are empowered to change and improve their lives. We had total of 10 individual IDP’s now working with Toyota Iraq, as well as many others now working with other automobile companies”.

 Vakhtang Svanidze, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Iraq, also commented on the power of livelihood recovery for building resilient communities:

“Enhancing livelihoods and employment opportunities is one of the key elements for self-reliance and early recovery of conflict effected communities. UNDP is grateful for the support of Toyota and Oxfam to provide technical training for young men and women IDPs originating from areas across Iraq – including Mosul, Anbar and Salah al-Din, improving their employability and enabling them to access the job market with invaluable experience.   This project would not be possible to implement without generous financial support by government of Japan “

Reinforcing a commitment to provide on-going support for to the young men and women of Iraq, and to invest in the leaders of tomorrow, Toyota and UNDP renewed their partnership in early 2019, marking three years of collaboration in training and committing to a further two.

Toyota’s commitment is reflective of their core principles and dedication to support the local communities in which they work, “By respecting the culture and practices of each country and region and engaging in business activities with close community ties, we are working to create an enriching society while promoting measures that support labor and education”.

Likewise, the Government of Japan shares this interest to develop and build resilience in nations around the world, “We consider the Human Resource Development utmost priority allocating more than $ 350,000,000 to support in a variety of development programs around the world,” commented Japan Consul in Erbil, Mr. Moriyasu.

The conclusion of the graduation ceremony, was marked by Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Shinsuke Fujimoto, who expressed on behalf of all Toyota Iraq, a proudness for the great achievement of each graduate and and well wishes for their success in the next step of their career.

This programme was launched on the 25th of October 2016 as a flagship joint project between UNDP and Toyota Iraq to give internally displaced young people opportunities to enter the automotive industry, with the partnership renewal as of 28th of January,2019.

(Source: UNDP)

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has welcomed an additional contribution of USD 5.4 million from the Government of Japan to support reconstruction and peacebuilding in Iraq through the rehabilitation of war-damaged houses and construction of low-cost housing units in key liberated cities.

More than one year from the declaration of the military victory over so-called ISIL in 2017, more than 1.7 million people are still displaced in Iraq. The rehabilitation of severely damaged structures and rebuilding of fully destroyed houses are extremely costly and require robust engineering expertise. IDPs with their severely damaged or fully destroyed homes are still in dire need of support.

Through the additional funding UN-Habitat will be able to continue its community-based interventions and the rehabilitation of “severely damaged” houses and the construction of low-cost housing units to accommodate vulnerable returnees whose houses are “destroyed.”

Returnees and members of affected communities will be trained on skills required for the works and recruited under the project to support rebuilding their livelihoods. Approximately 2,500 returnees are expected to benefit from this project, and priorities will be given to vulnerable households including female-headed households, those with elderly, infants and children under age 6, or physically impaired.

His Excellency Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq said:

“Japan has recently decided a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to US$ 63 million, including this project as a contribution to the housing sector. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches US$ 500 million.”

UN-Habitat is grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for their continuous generous support which allows integration of the New Urban Agenda and physical interventions for post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding.

The development of sites for low-cost housing units designed to accommodate vulnerable displaced people who lost their homes is one of the pillars of the “Housing Reconstruction Strategy” recently developed by the Government of Iraq and UN-Habitat to enhance and accelerate housing reconstruction and development in conflict-affected areas.

With a contribution of approximately $50 million since 2015, the Government of Japan has been a vital partner to UN-Habitat’s Iraq Programme.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Panasonic Eco Solutions has announced that it has renewed its agreement with Al Manzil Group as its authorized distributor in Iraq for all Panasonic Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) – Fan products.

According to a press release, Iraq is one of the largest markets for Panasonic IAQ-Fan products and promises immense opportunities for growth with the country currently undergoing a reconstruction phase.

(Source: Press Release)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has welcomed an additional contribution of USD 1,625,000 from the Government of Japan to further mitigate the threat posed by explosive hazards in support of the provision, facilitation and enablement of humanitarian and stabilization support.

Japan has recently decided a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to USD 63 million, which includes this project as a contribution to explosive hazard management,” said His Excellency Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto (pictured), Ambassador of Japan to the Federal Republic of Iraq.

He reiterated Japan’s continued support for Iraq’s reconstruction efforts, notably through humanitarian and stabilization assistance to help displaced people return to their communities.

UNMAS, working in tandem with its implementing partners, continues to maintain a weighted presence in Iraq, especially in the areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

This contribution from the Government of Japan will support UNMAS explosive hazard management activities in Iraq. UNMAS implements a strategic, comprehensive response to mitigate the risks posed by explosive hazards through three primary areas: explosive hazard management, capacity enhancement, and risk education.

This range of activities allows for a dynamic and adaptable approach covering clearance, enhancement of existing government resources, and engagement with communities to ensure a unified response to explosive hazards.

This contribution is complemented with a risk education event for internally displaced people (IDPs) sponsored by Japan, entitled “Safe Run”. Through interactive activities and a two-kilometre run for children of families residing in the camp, the event highlighted correct behaviors to adopt when encountering explosive hazards.

Mr. Katsumi Moriyasu, Consul of Japan in Erbil, talked to children in his speech at the event:

“It is my sincere hope that you keep yourselves fully cautious and protect yourselves, based upon the lessons you have learned today. You are assured that your parents, authorities, UNMAS, local and international communities continue to work closely toward a world without mines so that you, your sisters and brothers can attend school and play at outside fields, being free from getting victimized.”

Mr. Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager in Iraq, said:

“Significant explosive contamination remains uncleared throughout the liberated areas and pose a significant threat to all members of the affected communities, with children being especially vulnerable. Whether through direct explosive hazard management, or risk education initiatives such as this ‘Safe Run’, Japan’s generous contribution will go a long way in supporting humanitarian and stabilization efforts in the country.”

The Government of Japan is an essential contributor to UNMAS explosive hazards management activities in Iraq and has donated over USD 14.4 million since 2016.

(Source: UN)

Lukoil and Inpex Corporation have successfully completed testing of the fifth well as part of the appraisal phase at the Eridu field (Block 10) in the southern part of Iraq.

The well recorded daily flow rate of more than 1,500 cubic meters of oil from the Mishrif formation and proved the current geological model of the Eridu field as effective.

Lukoil continues geological exploration at Block 10. For instance, in the mid-term the Company plans to drill and test several appraisal wells, complete 3D seismic surveys at the Eridu field and 2D seismic surveys at the block’s southern and central parts.

(Source: Lukoil)

Peace Education in Iraq: Laying a Foundation for Sustainable Development

Strengthening the capacity of universities across Iraq to contribute to the achievement of SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, UNDP Iraq, national NGO, Iraq Al-Amal and the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck, together launched a new national curriculum  – “Diploma Programme for Peace and Conflict Studies”, which will be piloted in October 2019.

With the endorsement of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MOHESR), the curriculum was drafted with the participation of 14 academicians from Baghdad, Tikrit, Anbar, Mosul, Kufa, Babylon, and Basra universities, and designed to admit graduate students from any BA Programme. Admission of the first cohort of the two semester programme will be determined through evaluation by an academic board.

In Iraq, a country with a conflict-torn history, from colonialism to the regime of Saddam Hussein, the foreign invasion of 2003 and the rise of ISIS, reoccuring conflict has contributed to the creation of a status quo that sees many communities traumatized and divided.  This curriculum is the first step toward a theoretical understanding of peace and non-violent conflict transformation; and lays the ground work for community engagement by educated practitioners.

Jamal Aljawaheri, Executive Director of Iraq Al-Amal, explains, “Peace Education is cost-effective and sustainable. If we are able to educate the leaders of tomorrow in ideas of peaceful coexistence and conflict transformation, these ideas will permeate into communities and in time, lessen the burden of military and police costs associated with on-going violence and the security currently required to keep others safe. Keeping in mind, this must be well informed and context specific ideas of peace and conflict.”

UNDP Iraq and Eastern Menonnite University previously collaborated on Peace Education in Iraq, having been instrumental in the establishment and capacity development of the Iraqi Universities Consortium for Peace Studies between 2016-2017, which has since advocated for the integration of peace studies into the higher education systems in Iraq.

Subsequently, the partnership with the University of Innsbruck has enabled the training of 23 Academicians (6 women) on conflict assessment/analysis, dialogue, negotiation and facilitation, which will further enable the effective delivery of the new Diploma curriculum.

“In an economy that knows the value of people, we know how to communicate with each other, we know how to cooperate with each other, we feel the empathy for the suffering of the other but also the joy of the other – and that’s what peace studies is about, that’s why we need it in universities. I think in many societies we have lost this ability, and peace studies can contribute a lot to their recovery – I think Iraq is a place where people long for that,” described Wolfgang Dietrich, UNESCO Chairholder for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck.

In 2018, UNDP and Iraqi Al-Amal also supported 11 academicians and experts (4 from Iraq, and 7 from the region) to develop the first-ever Arabic language Peace Lexicon, which has since been adopted nationally as a key strategic tool for peace education. With over 263 key terms relating to peace and conflict, this lexicon will enable academics to share common ground when communicating about peace and conflict in Iraq, especially in the implementation of the new curriculum.

Dr Mohammedsiddig Mudawi, Head of Stabilization, UNDP Iraq, commented on the enthusiasm of attending academicians, all anxious to see the results of the pilot Diploma in October at Baghdad University, “For the first time, academicians from different fields of study – psychology, law and sociology, are coming together to explore the idea of Peace Studies, which is indeed still in its infancy in many Iraqi Universities. The fact that we could gather so many academicians not only to develop the curriculum together, but to embrace it at today’s launch, is a testament to the enthusiasm and passion of Iraqi society and their desire to achieve a peaceful co-existance.”

The development and launch of the Diploma Programme for Peace and Conflict Studies Curriculum and Arabic Peace Lexicon was made possible with generous funding from the Government of Japan.

(Source: UN)

The government of Japan has donated US$3.4 million to provide lifesaving health and nutrition assistance for vulnerable children in conflict affected areas in Iraq.

Approximately 4.2 million people have returned to their homes after fleeing the violence that erupted in 2014, however many find their homes and communities have been reduced to rubbles and essential health services overstretched.

“Across all conflict affected governorates, hospitals have been destroyed and those that are functioning are overwhelmed and struggling to meet health and nutrition needs, placing the lives of the most vulnerable children at risk of deadly diseases, including polio and measles,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative to Iraq.

“Japan has recently decided on a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to 63 million US dollars, including this project as contribution in health and nutrition sectors. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis in Iraq reaches 500 million US Dollars,” said H.E. Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq said.

UNICEF is grateful to the Government of Japan in their unwavering support to vulnerable children and families in Iraq. Since 2015 UNICEF Iraq has partnered with Government of Japan to support the needs of children caught in cycles of violence.

The latest funding of US$.3.4 million will compliment Japan and UNICEF’s investment for Iraqi children by building the capacity of health workers, strengthening health systems in conflict affected governorates as well as providing immunization and nutrition services to nearly 1 million children and breastfeeding mothers in areas of returns as well as in the camps for displaced people.

(Source: UN)