Iraq is a highly urbanized country with approximately 70% of its population living in cities and towns. The progressive urbanization, along with the consequences of war, economic sanctions, internal conflict and mismanagement, has resulted in a steady deterioration of urban services and the impoverishment of large segments of the urban population. These conditions have been made worse by the influx of large numbers of IDPs and returning refugees, which have resulted in substantial increases of the urban population and a further deterioration in the delivery of urban services and the state of the urban environment.
The existing systems of urban planning and management cannot cope with the critical problems now affecting the urban sector. In addition, Iraq’s local government system is in a state of confusion and disarray. Powers and responsibilities between central government, the governorates and municipalities are not clearly defined and are often in conflict. Municipal officials are overwhelmed with service delivery problems and are unable to cope with the high degree of urban growth that is taking place in most cities. National laws and policies on urban and land management and municipal finance are outdated and in need of reform.
The first phase of the project started in early 2005 and will be completed in mid 2006. Its purpose has been to provide technical advice to the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works on law reform, urban and land management, municipal finance, and to strengthen the planning and service delivery capabilities of the cities of Arbil and Basra. Specific outputs from the project include:
- A National Action Plan for the Reform of Urban and Land Management related Policies, Legislation and Programmes.
- A National Action Plan for Reform of Municipal Finance related Policies, Legislation and Programmes.
- Organisational Reviews and Capacity Development Plans for Arbil and Basra.
- Planning Systems Reviews and Terms of Reference for City Development Strategies for Arbil and Basra.
- Financial Management and Budgeting Reviews for Arbil and Basra.
- A draft State of Iraqi Cities Report (SICR), co-financed by the Ministry of Municipalities and Pubic Works (to be completed under Phase 2 of the project).
Iraq’s Minister of Construction and Housing receives a scroll of honour from the Egypt Development Bank