First Iraq National Housing Conference
Baghdad, 14-15 January 2009
The Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing organized the first National Housing Conference in Baghdad on 14 and 15 January 2009. It drew wide participation from various national ministries, the Iraqi Parliament, the banking and private sectors, and the international community. Conference participants discussed the challenges and future direction of the housing sector in Iraq, and various ministries and technical specialists from UN-HABITAT made presentations.
According to Ms. Bayan Dezayee, the Iraqi Minister of Construction and Housing, “Iraq’s population will reach 39 million and will require building 1.9 million housing units by 2015, which cannot be met with existing rates of supply.” The minister called for international assistance to reform the housing sector and the active participation of the private sector to contribute to at least 85 percent of the housing production.
The Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, Ms. Anna Tibajuka, in her speech delivered by Mr. Sudipto Mukerjee, the agency’s Iraq Programme Manager, underscored the critical need to provide adequate housing to all and curb the growth of slums, actions that can contribute to social stabilization and peace building. To this end, she also stressed the need for the government to partner with civil society in policy making and strategy development to enable communities to overcome the devastation of war and conflict. Recognizing the formulation of the National Housing Policy as a critical step in the sector reform process, she underlined the need for hard decisions, patience, and long-term commitment from all actors, including the international community. Ms. Tibaijuka committed UN-HABITAT support for policy and institutional development and building the necessary capacities to improve housing delivery.
Speaking on behalf of Mr. Staffan de Mistura, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Simona Marinescu, welcomed the successful preparation of the Iraq Housing Market Study and the pilot subnational housing strategies, which are key sectoral targets encapsulated in the International Compact with Iraq. Continuing such concerted efforts in revitalizing the housing sector will also enable displaced families to return and encourage young people to stay and build their lives inside the country.
The conference concluded that the National Housing Committee would need to be empowered to lead sector reform efforts, including the formulation of the National Housing Policy and related institutional and legal reforms. A slum-upgrading programme should be initiated without delay, with technical assistance from UN-HABITAT and funding from the interest generated from the Iraq Housing Fund.