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UNICEF and EU Support the Government of Iraq to Increase Safe Drinking Water

Guidelines on Use of Reverse Osmosis Technology Adopted


Baghdad, 13 September, 2011 -  Guidelines for the utilization of Reverse Osmosis technology for water desalination and treatment projects were adopted today by the Government of Iraq.  As part of a $10 million UNICEF programme supported by the European Union to develop Iraq’s water and sanitation sector, the guidelines detail a step-by-step process to implement and operate reverse osmosis water treatment projects.


“The current high salinity of water sources in Iraq is contributing to the limited availability of safe water to a large proportion of the Iraqi population”, said UNICEF Iraq’s Chief of Water and Sanitation, Mr. Hrachya Sargsyan. “These guidelines will ensure water treatment systems have effective desalination technologies in place which, once operational, will increase the supply of safe drinking water to the around three million children who currently do not have access to safe water.”


High salinity is one of the primary issues impacting the quality of drinking water across Iraq.  In southern Iraq, as the Euphrates and Tigris rivers reach Basra, salinity is reported to be up to ten times the recommended maximum level stated in the World Health Organization’s guidelines for drinking water. As existing water treatment methods in Iraq do not remove salinity, they are rendered insufficient to ensure safe drinking water to all of Iraq's 15 million children. Reverse osmosis is considered the most effective and suitable technology for the desalination of water in Iraq.  It is an adaptable technology that can operate under a range of salinity and temperature conditions.


Trainings on the guidelines will be held for officials within relevant Government departments in the coming months in all Governorates.  With the high levels of salinity in water resources in Basra, a training session for the departments of Water, Environment and Health has already been held to start implementing the guidelines within the governorate. 


“Developing the capacity of Iraqi authorities to better manage and maintain goods and services in the public domain is the overarching principle of our development cooperation with Iraq” said the European Union’s Water and Sanitation program Manager, Mr. Anton Stemberger. “A proper functioning water and sanitation sector is a common priority in the ongoing and future EU – Iraq cooperation”.


Upon the completion of all trainings, the guidelines will be applied to the over 300 reverse osmosis plants that exist across Iraq, contributing to the attainment of Millennium Development Goal 7 to ensure environmental sustainability by 2015 and overall health and development of Iraq’s children.


About UNICEF Iraq

UNICEF has been on the ground in Iraq since 1983 working to ensure Iraqi children survive and realize their full potential. UNICEF is supporting the Government of Iraq

to develop child friendly policies, build the capacity of institutions that deliver essential services to children, and convene all duty bearers to realize the full rights of Iraqi children. Via a network of staff and partners, UNICEF’s programmes continue to improve basic health services, safeguard a quality education, rebuild water and sanitation systems, protect children from abuse, violence, and exploitation, and meet the needs of the most vulnerable in crisis situations.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:


About EU in Iraq

Helping Iraqi national efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have a strong two-way link to the peace consolidation process is fundamental for the EU.  The EU’s objective for cooperation with Iraq has been to help Iraq mobilise its own resources for recovery and development, with the support of the international community.  EU support to Iraq from 2003 to the end of 2010 amounts to over 1 billion Euro targeting mainly the following sectors: basic services such as education, health, water and sanitation, infrastructure; political and electoral process; support to refugees and IDPs; rule of law; human rights; and capacity building of Iraqi institutions.  For more information about EU in Iraq visit:


For further information please contact:

Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Iraq, +962796926190,

Salam Abdulmunem, UNICEF Iraq, +9647809126782,

Anton Stemberger, EU Iraq,



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