UN-HABITAT and officials of interim government in Iraq have agreed to embark on a new Urban and Housing Rehabilitation Programme under which UN-HABITAT will help promote sustainable post-war reconstruction. Japan has contributed US $8.8 million for a post-war school and community rehabilitation project in southern Iraq.
Members of a UN-HABITAT High Level Advisory Panel for the Reconstruction of Iraq announced the new plan after talks in Amman at the weekend with the Iraqi Minister of Public Works and Municipalities, Mrs. Nasreen Berwari, and senior representatives of three other ministries .
The meeting, also attended by a team of more than 15 prominent Iraqi experts, finalised an integrated Urban and Housing Rehabilitation Programme and a related fund-mobilisation strategy. Priority needs for international assistance to the Iraqi urban and housing sector were estimated at US$ 369 million over the next four years. The programme has six components - local governance and municipal management; poverty reduction and slum upgrading; employment generation in the construction sector, a housing finance/ housing fund; a policy and strategy for shelter; and urban information systems.
In a joint statement , the panelists endorsed the six proposals and agreed to consolidate them as part of an country-wide Urban and Housing Reconstruction Programme (UHRP) to be implemented under Iraqi ministerial leadership in close cooperation with local authorities and civil society. They acknowledged that the programme should combine policy reforms at the national level, city-level capacity building, and concrete improvements in living conditions at the neighbourhood level. They recommended the creation of new an inter-ministerial Iraqi National Habitat Council involving national, local authorities and civil society.
Urging donors to contribute “generously” either directly or through the UN Development Group, they recommended that the programme be placed under the responsibility and coordination of UN-HABITAT in its role as the focal point for shelter and human settlements development, and as the task manager for housing and urban management in the United Nations Strategic Plan for Iraq.
At a separate round-table meeting for resource mobilisation held with Japanese participation, it was announced that the funds contributed by Japan will be used by UN-HABITAT to help implement the construction of new schools and other community rehabilitation mainly in the southern Iraqi district of Samawa.