UN-HABITAT’s Deputy Executive Director, Mr. Daniel Biau, will next week embark on an official visit Japan to brief the country’s officials on the progress the agency has made in reconstruction work in Iraq.
The purpose of Mr. Biau’s visit is to apprise the Government of Japan, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), of the progress UN-HABITAT has made in implementing the Japanese-financed programme for the reconstruction in Iraq. The work done so far has received a lot of praise from the Iraqi authorities.
Having contributed over US$ 42 million for four reconstruction projects in 2004, the Government of Japan, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the largest partner of the UN-HABITAT Iraq reconstruction programme. The four projects are located in six Iraqi cities located in the central region (Baghdad and Baqubah), the north (Kirkuk) and the lower south (Najaf, Samawa, Nassiriya and Basrah). The six cities account for about 35 percent of the total population of the country and cover the three main ethnic and religious groups of Iraq.
Phase 1 of the Community Rehabilitation Project, being implemented in Baghdad, Samawa and Kirkuk, will improve the living conditions of approximately 20,000 Iraqis by rehabilitating housing and apartment units that have sustained war damage or which have deteriorated through neglect and lack of maintenance. The project will focus on minor structural repairs including the renovation of sanitary, plumbing and electrical systems.
The School Rehabilitation Project aims to address one of the most critical problems facing the educational system in Iraq. This is the extremely poor condition of schools whose buildings have deteriorated from neglect, looting and lack of maintenance, and which lack basic sanitary facilities, furniture and supplies that are necessary to create an environment conducive to learning. Another key objective of this project is to generate employment and to assist in the development of the construction sector in the lower south of Iraq.
The project will cover 200 schools in Samawa, Basrah and Nassiriya. Out of these 85 will undergo a full spectrum of internal and external structural repairs, 60 will have their sanitation systems improved, and 55 will receive furniture and supplies as well as improvements to their air conditioning systems. So far, work is complete on 45 schools providing a much-improved learning environment for an estimated 14,600 students.
The Educational Facilities Rehabilitation Project seeks to improve access to all levels of education and upgrade the standard of technical and vocational education. Some 26 kindergartens and schools, 10 technical and vocational institutes, and two university departments will benefit from this project. These facilities have sustained considerable damage through a combination of neglect or extensive looting during the post-war period. The project will restore the buildings and supply furniture and equipment including computers, workshop and laboratory equipment to upgrade the standard of technical education.
Finally, Phase 2 of the Living Infrastructure and Community Rehabilitation will focus on 2,000 housing units for vulnerable groups and victims of war in the cities of Basrah, Baqubah and Najaf, four orphanages in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Samawa and a housing complex in Baghdad. The project will also improve sewage and solid waste collection systems in 14 districts in Basrah, Samawa and Baghdad.