2010 Iraq: Emergency Water Supply to un-served/underserved/ Vulnerable Areas in Baghdad and the IDPs
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According to the National Development Strategy for Iraq, 2005-2007; up to 1991 water and sanitation systems in Iraq were operating efficiently. Safe potable water was accessible to 95% of urban and 75% of rural inhabitants. 218 conventional water treatment plants were operating in the country and 1,191 compact water treatment plants were also in operation. Sanitation services covered 75% of urban communities and 50% of rural ones.
Recent studies show that many water and sewage treatment plants were provided at an “acceptable” level. Of the 177 water treatment plants only 34 were classified as “good.” Sewage collection and treatment service in Baghdad is provided to only 80% of the population and only 9% of urban populations outside of Baghdad, while rural areas in the north of Iraq do not have piped sewage systems.
Sanitation is thus becoming a serious environmental and health problem. Deteriorating sewer pipes are contaminating the potable water network and underground water, further adding to the health and environmental problems. It is estimated that 50% of wastewater generated in Iraq is being discharged into the rivers and waterways. Baghdad contributes as much as 75% of that discharge.
The Government is committed to restoring the standards that existed before 2003 and expanding access in a sustainable way. Emergency activities include water tinkering, especially to the southern cities. Water quality monitoring has been established throughout the country. Procurement for water treatment chemicals and garbage collection is being provided.
The Water and Sanitation Rehabilitation work undertaken by other Agencies and UNICEF in the sector fill-in only partial needs leaving behind Water and Sanitation facilities in a number of cities, especially Baghdad crippled and ill-maintained. The lack of adequate budget with the Government affects its ability to undertake rehabilitation and new projects as well as its capacity to run basic Water and Sanitation operations. This has led to a situation, where a large number of water supply facilities including water networks, booster stations and water treatment in Baghdad are still in a state of disrepair. Hospitals, often overwhelmed by the victims of violence and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in water supply.
The developmental goal of the project was to strengthen the government’s capacity to protect public health by averting water borne disease outbreaks during critical water shortages and emergencies by enhancing access to safe water to the affected population during critical shortages and emergencies in Baghdad. The project was funded under the UNDG-ITF at USD 1,058,652 and the original project duration was 8 months starting 1 June 2006 but was implemented and finalized in 7 months and ended on February 2007.
UNICEF’s main implementation partners were the Mayoralty of Baghdad, Ministry of Municipality and Public Works and United Nations Country Team (UNCT). Other forged partners included families who had been supported through employment of their family members involved in water tankering operation.
A total of 180,000 people living in the most deprived areas within Baghdad benefited from the emergency water supply distribution. In addition, government staff benefited from the capacity development programme, which was implemented as an integral part of the project.
The project was in line with the priorities identified in the National Development Strategy for Iraq, 2007- 2010 with regard to meeting the most urgent rehabilitation needs, training and capacity building. In addition, the project is expected to make a significant contribution towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals by reducing child mortality from communicable diseases and contribution to environmental sustainability.
The project under evaluation addressed the inadequacies in the water supply infrastructure in selected deprived areas in Baghdad, the project also contributed to strengthen capacities of Water Authority staff in the proper management of water tinkering operations to realize the full beneficial impact on the population. Approximately 150,000 people received potable water through emergency water supply distribution to deprived areas in Baghdad. Six hospitals dealing with the victims of daily incidences of violence and bombing in Baghdad have also benefited from the daily distribution also IDPs in Anbar (7000 in Akashat and 4250 in Kbaisa) have been served with UNICEF water trucking during 2006 and (2800 in Kubaisa/ Anbar and 3000 in Singar/Ninevah) have been served in 2007 , while emergency water supply operations played a major role in providing the needed potable water to Baghdad main hospitals during water cut-off resulting from the frequent bombing of Al-Karkh WTP pipeline and power station in addition to residential areas, schools and primary health centers. The water tankering operations provided the needed relief to areas affected by chronic shortages until the services therein would be resumed.
The project was in-line with the priorities identified in the National Development Strategy (NDS), 2005-2007 with regard to improving quality of life of the Iraqi people with special emphasis on water and sanitation. Also the project contributed towards attaining the MDG goals in particular to Goal # 4 = Reduce Child Mortality, Goal # 7 = Ensure Environmental Sustainability and Goal # 8 = Develop Global Partnership for Development.
The security situation and frequent closure of roads delayed the process of distribution. Other reasons such as fuel shortage and unstable electrical power system all affected the conduct of trips adversely.
- A better documentation system should be put in place to insure the availability of current and history records for water test at the water filling points.
- Iraq is a resource-rich country both in terms of material and human resources. Consistent with the priorities identified in the National Development Strategy, The GoI should develop plans and allocate adequate funds under the development budgets of the next few years in order to implement projects to address the water distributing to all its rural and urban areas to insure that high quality water be available for all communities.
- Technical assistance should be sought from UNICEF for enhancing the process of institutional capacity building of water authorities, staff of public health laboratories and other national institutions involved in provision of basic water and sanitation services in the country.
- An effective system for regular chemical and bacteriological testing, of water should be carried out by trained staff at quality control laboratories in order to ensure that the quality of drinking water.
- Many of the beneficiaries interviewed had braced UNICEF’s support in 2006-2007 of potable water distribution and are now emphasizing the importance of their continuous support. Since the finalization of the project irregularities in water distribution and malpractice of the use of tankers (filled with different liquids other than water) have led the situation in deprived areas to deteriorate.
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