By Dr Renad Mansour and Glada Lahn, for the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Same Old Politics Will Not Solve Iraq Water Crisis

Addressing Iraq’s water crisis should be a priority for any incoming prime minister as it is damaging the country’s attempts to rebuild.

But successive governments have allowed the problem to fester.

Click here to read the full story.

By Dr Renad Mansour and Glada Lahn, for the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Same Old Politics Will Not Solve Iraq Water Crisis

Addressing Iraq’s water crisis should be a priority for any incoming prime minister as it is damaging the country’s attempts to rebuild.

But successive governments have allowed the problem to fester.

Click here to read the full story.

UNICEF partners with the Republic of Korea to provide water and sanitation services for the most vulnerable children in Iraq

Approximately 3 million children and young people across Iraq need humanitarian support as they try to recover from years of conflict and violence.

The Republic of Korea has partnered with UNICEF and contributed US$1 million to provide water and sanitation services to the most vulnerable children living in displacement camps in Anbar, Ninewa and Salah al Din-areas hardest hit by the violence.

Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF’s Representative in Iraq, said:

“An estimated 30 per cent of displaced children live in camps, where humanitarian needs are greatest. The contribution from the Republic of Korea will ensure we are able to continue providing critical services such as safe drinking water as well as maintaining sanitation facilities to promote hygiene and protect children from preventable diseases.”

In addition to the provision of safe drinking water for nearly 60,000 people in the displacement camps, the contribution from the Korea will support the following activities:

  • care and maintenance of the existing water systems including the network, taps, water tanks and water purification units;
  • care and maintenance for the sanitation facilities, including repair of latrines, showers, toilet pans, and septic tanks;
  • waste collection services;
  • dissemination of information, education, and communication materials on water conservation, safe purification and storage of water, and hygiene awareness sessions will take place to help maintain positive practices in the targeted population.

In 2019, the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Cluster (WASH) co-led by UNICEF and other non-governmental organizations reached over 1.8 million people with safe water in Ninewa, Salah al Din and Anbar.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will support six Iraqi universities to develop climate-smart agriculture and efficient water management in Iraq.

Together with the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in Delft and ICRA Global, Wageningen researchers will train academic staff and develop knowledge transfer facilities.

Iraq is one of the focus countries of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that reason, the Ministry asked WUR to explore the opportunities for cooperation in Iraq in 2018. Last year, an high-level Iraqi delegation visited Wageningen to discuss the collaboration. The two-year project will address several issues.

Teaching styles

First, the Dutch participants will try to modernize the outdated teaching styles at the Iraqi universities by incorporating group work and practical work in their curriculum.

Secondly, the project wants to organize joint research programs at the six universities. Each of these universities will send a scientist to Wageningen to write a joint research article about water management and climate-smart agriculture in Iraq.

The participants may also develop massive open online courses (mooc’s) to implement knowledge transfer to other universities and development partners.

Salinity problems

Iraq is recovering from the war against IS. Some universities were damaged, some others face a challenge to collaborate with farmers to combat water shortage or salinity problems in agriculture. For security reasons, the training will be held in The Netherlands and project partners will meet in the safe Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Karrar Mahdi, an Iraqi scientist at the Soil Physics and Land Use Planning group in Wageningen, will coordinate the project. The project has received a budget of 1,3 million euros. One-third of that budget will be spent at WUR to give scientific and educational assistance.

(Source: WUR)

By John Lee.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) will support six Iraqi universities to develop climate-smart agriculture and efficient water management in Iraq.

Together with the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in Delft and ICRA Global, Wageningen researchers will train academic staff and develop knowledge transfer facilities.

Iraq is one of the focus countries of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For that reason, the Ministry asked WUR to explore the opportunities for cooperation in Iraq in 2018. Last year, an high-level Iraqi delegation visited Wageningen to discuss the collaboration. The two-year project will address several issues.

Teaching styles

First, the Dutch participants will try to modernize the outdated teaching styles at the Iraqi universities by incorporating group work and practical work in their curriculum.

Secondly, the project wants to organize joint research programs at the six universities. Each of these universities will send a scientist to Wageningen to write a joint research article about water management and climate-smart agriculture in Iraq.

The participants may also develop massive open online courses (mooc’s) to implement knowledge transfer to other universities and development partners.

Salinity problems

Iraq is recovering from the war against IS. Some universities were damaged, some others face a challenge to collaborate with farmers to combat water shortage or salinity problems in agriculture. For security reasons, the training will be held in The Netherlands and project partners will meet in the safe Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Karrar Mahdi, an Iraqi scientist at the Soil Physics and Land Use Planning group in Wageningen, will coordinate the project. The project has received a budget of 1,3 million euros. One-third of that budget will be spent at WUR to give scientific and educational assistance.

(Source: WUR)

By John Lee.

Al Qubba Water Treatment Plant has been inaugurated in east Mosul, in cooperation with the local government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

According to the state-owned Emirates News Agency, the inauguration was attended by Mansour Marid, Governor of Mosul, and UNDP Officer of Northern Iraq Governorates Projects, who thanked the UAE for supporting the project.

The station is one of the largest in Nineveh Governorate, east Mosul, and will cover the needs of 75 percent of the region’s people, benefitting 750,000 individuals.

The station is one of 23 projects implemented by the UNDP in Iraq costing AED220 million (US$60 million), which are funded by the UAE.

These projects, which are estimated to benefit 1.2 million people, aim to restore local infrastructure and social facilities in the areas of health, electricity, water and housing, as well as provide job opportunities, build national capacities, empower women, develop local markets, and encourage refugees to return to their homes.

The UAE has provided humanitarian and development aid to Iraq worth AED2.63 billion ($716 million) between 2014 and October 2019.

(Source: Emirates News Agency)

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Saleem al-Wazzan.

Drinking water in Basra has been found to contain a disastrous cocktail of bacteria, as well as too much salt. Although multiple causes for this are clear, officials don’t seem to be able to solve the problem.

“The hospital corridors were crowded and the beds all full, so people were lying in the corridors,” Basra student, Jassem Ali, recalls. “The emergency ward was also full and sometimes there were two people in the same bed. Medicine was also in short supply.”

But Ali isn’t talking about a war zone – he is recounting his experiences at a local hospital after he fell ill, thanks to drinking the local water. Ali was vomiting and had terrible diarrhoea, simply from drinking from the local supply. He couldn’t eat anything for a week, he said, because he couldn’t hold it in.

The hospital he was in had run out of drips for patients – the drips delivered nutrients and liquids directly to the bloodstream because like Ali, most people couldn’t eat anything. So many patients were having to try and drink the necessary nutrients.

His is not the only story like this. Local woman, Saja Hussein, says she doesn’t even use the water to brush her teeth now. She thinks she became ill from washing her hair and showering. While in the emergency ward, she saw another woman die, after vomiting continuously for hours. “I was so shocked,” she says. “I cannot forget her face, even now.”

It is suspected that poisoned water in this area has caused intestinal diseases in up to 118,000 people. It’s also one of the reasons why locals were protesting so violently – around 22 were killed and over 600 injured – in Basra, in the summer of 2018.

There are all kinds of causes for Basra’s increasingly poisoned water – most of them are well known. Mahkram Fadhil, an engineer at Basra’s water authority, believes that not enough fresh water is being released in the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Usually fresh water from two large contributing rivers – the Euphrates and the Tigris – flushes out the river basin, which discharges into the sea. But the construction of large dams in upriver nations like Turkey, Iran and Syria, has led to a reduction of sweet water feeding into the basin and meant that the water here gets saltier, due to encroaching seawater.

“And the problem is that all the water sources used by our water purification stations depend on the Shatt al-Arab,” Fadhil explains. “The increasingly high salinity and the pollutants thrown into the waterways make it even worse.”

There’s also a lack of funding. “Since 2013, the department has lacked the money to provide chlorine for sterilization or to repair the older plants,” Fadhil noted.

There are 12 main water purification and pumping stations in Basra and dozens more smaller ones, up to an estimated 300 or so. Many are older, with some having been built decades ago and nearly all of them rely on water from the Shatt al-Arab. Others were built after 2003 but have never been fully operational, or operational at all, for reasons unknown. Even if they were all working to capacity though, it would be difficult for the plants to produce enough water – they can help to purify the water but they cannot desalinate it.

The locals and local businesses are far from blameless. Often there are no real legal deterrents to prevent factories from spewing pollution into the local waterways. Locals usually don’t pay their water bills either – it’s very hard to police the non-payers and most houses don’t have water meters anyway.

Samples of contaminated water were sent for testing, says Shukri al-Hassan, a marine science lecturer at Basra University. “The results confirmed the presence of all kinds of serious bacterial contamination, including cholera, E-Coli and giardia, among others.”

This nasty cocktail of bacteria was in samples from rivers branching off the Shatt al-Arab and reached right into the basin itself. This is despite the fact that the water samples were collected during the flood season, when the Shatt al-Arab’s levels are at their highest. However extra water didn’t seem to be enough to flush out the contaminants, al-Hassan noted, indicating just how serious and potentially long term this problem is.

Unfortunately, al-Hassan added, very few of the officials who read about these results appeared to care much about them. “I don’t think that the issue of water quality or pollution is high on anyone’s agenda,” he told NIQASH. “We haven’t really seen any moves to resolve this issue.”

According to government sources though, there is plenty going on. Reports suggest that there are hundreds of service-related projects underway, with a total budget of over US$3 billion. Of course, as always in Iraq, locals doubt whether the authorities can actually make some of these projects happen, given the fact that corruption and inefficiency is endemic.

Somewhat ironically there’s also a positive economic side to Basra’s water problems. It has given rise to thriving private sector specializing in water desalination and purification. There are thought to be around 200 such businesses – however most are not regulated or supervised for standards and cleanliness.

Local lawyer Hassan Salman says he bought a bottle of water provided by one of these private factories, only to find that it seemed to contain some sort of algae or fungi. He told NIQASH that he’d like to file a lawsuit against the responsible factory but that this is almost impossible, because there are so many factories and a lot of brands putting falsified labels on their water products.

Basically what Basra needs are some serious long-term strategies, local activist Haider Salam suggests. That could involve the construction of  a major desalination plant for making water potable, getting rid of inefficient old plants that no longer provide safe water and the building of new networks and pipelines.

“But local and central governments never think this way,” he argues. “Their focus is always on more urgent but also more temporary issues.”

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

By Mustafa Habib.

Many countries in the Middle East are experiencing climate change first-hand already, with rising temperatures in summers that were already infernally hot to begin with, and less rainfall in winter.

Nations in this region are drawing up contingency plans with huge budgets in order to cope with the impending, severe water shortages they know will come. But Iraq is not one of them.

Thanks to various crises, in both political and security terms, as well as the country’s ongoing struggle with corruption, Iraq could be one of the first nations in this region to really feel the impact of ever-increasing water shortages.

It’s also becoming even more of a foreign policy issue. Last week, Iraqi officials were supposed to sign a deal on sharing the waters of the Tigris river with Turkish counterparts, a deal that they described as “important”. The Tigris passes through Turkey before it gets to Iraq. But, seemingly without much notice, the Turkish government cancelled the meeting and apparently the agreement until further notice.

“A delegation from the ministry was scheduled to visit Turkey but the Turks have now told us they are not yet ready to sign such an agreement,” explains Mehdi Rasheed, who supervises Iraqi dams for the Ministry of Water Resources.

Iran is the other prominent player in Iraq’s water supply. While the Tigris passes through Turkey, the other major river in Iraq, the Euphrates, passes through Iran first. Iraq is downriver to both countries.

The problem is that both Iran and Turkey seem to have plans to deal with impending water crises by building huge dams to store water from the two rivers. In this case, Iraq is a victim.

A report from the Ministry of Water Resources suggests that over the past few years Iraq has lost around a third of the water it once had out of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Taking into account the impact of global warming, the ministry estimates that the country will have lost around half of the water it once had from out of these waterways soon.

Previously Iraq was using 33 billion cubic meters of water out of the Euphrates. Today it can only access 16 billion cubic meters. A similar situation impacts the Tigris.

And Iraq doesn’t have the huge finances or planning ability to undertake its own similar projects. Major construction like this requires a stable country without the levels of financial and administrative corruption that Iraq has. In Iraq, even paving a small road appears to take months, possibly even years, to finish.

During the previous government, headed by former prime minister Haider al-Abadi, a 20-year plan to address the country’s water problems was formulated in 2014. It would cost an estimated US$184 billion. However the security crisis sparked by the extremist group known as the Islamic State meant the plan never came to fruition.

The kind of fight for water being played out across international borders is also reflected in Iraqis’ daily lives. Water supplies are regularly cut off to private households during the day, in peak times, often between 11am and 9pm. According to a technician at the water ministry, around one-fifth of Iraqis used to have small, household water pumps at home. Although it’s hard to know how many citizens now have them, the [pumps have become ubiquitous in the last five years. A small water pump is now part of basic household equipment.

It seems that today there is almost no home – even in low-income areas – that doesn’t use its own pump. Sometimes the pumps don’t work – the pipelines are so dry that there’s nothing for them to bring up. Other times, these pumps are not used correctly and bring contaminated water into city pipelines – this makes the water problem even worse.

So now Iraqi households are competing to buy bigger and better water pumps for home use. Neighbours with smaller pumps are then unable to get water.

Another problem in Iraq is wastefulness when it comes to water supplies. There is no control over consumption and nobody pays water bills to the government, because there’s no way of tracking or tracing the debtors.

There’s simply not enough awareness about climate change and the possible, resulting water crisis, says Mazen al-Jibouri, a civil rights activist from Baghdad. “In most countries there are organizations and activists that focus on water pollution and supply. But in Iraq, everyone is preoccupied with security and service-related issues or freedom of expression.”

“We all know our country is going to be victim to droughts and the climate crisis,” al-Jibouri concluded. “But any response requires cooperation between the government the people. We need a big campaign to raise awareness – before it is too late.”

By John Lee.

Turkey and Iraq have agreed to set up a center in Baghdad to study and address water issues in the region.

According to Daily Sabah, the Turkish Presidency’s Special Representative to Iraq Veysel Eroğlu said that both countries have drafted an action plan to address water issues.

They will also set up nurseries for trees suitable for conditions in Iraq.

(Sources: Daily Sabah, Ministry of Water Resources)

The Cabinet held its regular weekly meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mr. Adil Abd Al-Mahdi. It:

  • voted to adopt the recommendation of the Ministerial Council on Energy on the Charter of Cooperation of Oil-Producing Countries which aims to promote stability in the global oil market;
  • approved the allocation of funds to the Ministry of Construction, Housing, Municipalities and Public Works for the completion of Phase II of the Kirkuk Unified Water Project, one of the largest water projects in Iraq.
  • approved the allocation of funds to the Ministry of Justice to support its prison construction programme and the rehabilitation and refurbishment of existing facilities.
  • agreed that state-owned Mesopotamia, a Ministry of Agriculture company, can borrow from the Trade Bank of Iraq, and other banks the amount of 300 billion dinars to pay farmers for its purchases of the 2019 barley produce.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)