Iraq's water, sanitation services failing

Iraq only has 10% of the money needed over the next six years to fix its sewage and drinking water systems, the country's interim public works minister says.

    Iraq needs $20 billion to fix its water and sewage systems

    Nasrin Barwari

    said on Thursday the

    problem has been worsened by a US proposal to shift $2 billion earmarked for the sector to security needs.

    "It is very critical that grants get expanded for the sector," the minister said in Baghdad.

    The US government promised to pump $18.4 billion into reconstruction projects in Iraq after last year's invasion.

    But a month ago it revealed a plan to shift some of this cash into beefing up the country's security forces in response to anti-US attacks.

    An audit also revealed that only $1.1 of the reconstruction funds had been used and reconstruction projects were slow in taking off.

    Broken promises

    Barwari said this move would affect her ministry the most, with

    $2 billion out of a proposed $4 billion

    set to be siphoned off.

    The US has diverted rebuilding
    funds to boost Iraq's security

    Iraq's interim government will present an updated list of priority areas for funding at a two-day donor gathering in Japan next week, placing "water, sanitation and electricity at the top", the minister said.

    Donor countries, aid agencies and World Bank officials are due to meet in the Japanese capital to discuss Iraqi reconstruction, which has floundered amid the deteriorating security situation.

    Many Iraqis are still without basic services such as water and electricity.

    The interim government is unhappy that pledges made last year at a similar gathering in Madrid have largely failed to materialise.

    Foreign debt

    More than 90% of the country's cities have no decent sewage system, while only two thirds of Iraqis have access to safe drinking water, Barwari said.

    "Our vision is to provide 100% coverage for water and hopefully 50% at least, coverage for sanitation and sewage within the coming five to six years," the minister said.

    "Our vision is to provide 100% coverage for water and hopefully 50% at least coverage for sanitation and sewage within the coming five to six years"

    Nasrin Barwari,
    interim public works minister

    To achieve this goal, "we are talking about $18 to $20 billion that we need, which means an annual budget of $4 to $5 billion", she added.

    At present her ministry has only received $200 million from the interim government's budget, and a further $300 million from donor countries and other external funds annually.
     
    That is "10% of what we need as an investment," she said.
      
    In Tokyo, Iraqi officials will also discuss ways to reduce the country's multi-billion dollar foreign debt burden.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.