Water resources top agenda for Iraq's Ministry of Public Works
Iraqi Minister of Public Works Nasreen Berwari revealed details of her ministry's plan to restore Iraq's drinking water and sewage treatment infrastructure during a September 24 press briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center.
The announcement followed Berwari’s meetings with President Bush and senior US Agency for International Development (USAID) officials earlier in the week. Berwari told reporters that water services are once again close to pre-war levels but stated that her ministry and the Iraqi Governing Council are working to move beyond those levels of service as quickly as possible, reported Washington File.
She claimed that her first priority as minister of public works is to immediately ensure that "appropriate services are available to all Iraqis so that living conditions improve." Her second major challenge, she said, is an "institutional challenge" to build a ministry in which policy is made by "looking at the interests of the people in the context of a democratic, communal effort."
Berwari indicated that her ministry has developed a strategic plan to deliver safe drinking water to 90 percent of Iraqis by the end of 2004 and 100 percent by the end of 2005. The plan calls for extending sewage treatment to 15 percent of the country by the end of 2004 and to 30 percent by the end of 2005. Currently only three percent of Iraq's citizens enjoy proper sewage facilities.
The minister said that she and other officials from her ministry have been reaching out to build a network of contacts among private sector companies, non-governmental and international organizations, as well as state agencies and others who have expertise to offer in the rebuilding effort. She said her staff holds regular meetings with representatives of these organizations to share information and coordinate rebuilding efforts.
Asked about Iraq's historic dispute with Turkey over water from the Euphrates River, the minister indicated that the Iraqi Governing Council would be in discussions with Ankara
regarding an equitable division of resources.
She insisted, however, that Iraq is rich in water resources. The country simply needs to work on conservation and management policies, she said. In her view, the former Ba'athist regime created a "culture of waste," but she affirmed her commitment to pursuing a more responsible use of resources. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)