03.10.2010 -

UNESCO launches initiative to identify groundwater and alleviate water shortages in Iraq

©istockphoto.com/C. PurserA house destroyed and lifted off its foundation by Hurricane Katrina, located in Irish Bayou, New Orleans, LA.

Baghdad, 3 October – The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched today a scientific survey of Iraq’s groundwater in an effort to improve government capacity to address water scarcity in the country.

Iraq is currently facing severe water shortages across most parts of the country, with over 7.6 million Iraqis lacking access to safe drinking water, and an agriculture sector suffering from years of drought. Absent until now, this complete picture of groundwater resources in the country will provide national and local authorities the tools to identify accurately and manage sustainably this precious resource.

Incorporating the priorities put forward by the Government of Iraq for the water sector, the programme will be undertaken in two phases. The first phase, funded by the European Union (EU) through the auspices of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) Iraq Trust Fund, establishes an interactive database that uses Iraq’s existing hydrogeological data with a team of government experts trained to manage the database. Data and analysis gathered in Phase I will be integrated into a national survey of Iraq’s hydrogeological resources. Phase II, planned for 2011, will identify both aquifers down to 3,000 meters below the surface, study soil composition and aquifer replenishment, and prioritize areas for agricultural development.

Upon completion of the initiative, the Government of Iraq will have a wealth of new data about the status of groundwater in the country, and will be able to move quickly to address water shortages in worst affected areas.  The project will also improve planning of new agriculture projects and enable sustainable management of Iraq’s underground aquifers. Additionally, the programme will allow Iraqi water engineers across the country to share information on groundwater resources with each other quickly and efficiently.

“This project highlights the important role science plays in the development and reconstruction of Iraq. This programme will utilize the latest surveying technologies and scientific processes to strengthen Iraq’s understanding and management of its water resources,” stated Mr Mohamed Djelid, Director of UNESCO Iraq.  

“Water management is high up on our agenda. The launch of this project reflects the mutual engagement of UNESCO and the European Union to support the development of Iraq. In 2011 we'll continue to promote sustainable water management practices in Iraq.” said Mr. Jobst Von Kirchmann, Head of Development Cooperation, European Union.  

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Anton Stemberger,
Programme manager
Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Iraq
Tel: + 962 6 4607000 - ext. 150, 
Fax: + 962 6 4607001

Casey Walther,
Natural Sciences Officer
UNESCO Iraq Office (Amman) 
Tel: +962 6 5902340 – ext. 118,
Website




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