Iraq

International Development written question – answered on 3rd November 2005.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the rebuilding of Iraq.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for International Development

Progress has been made on reconstruction in Iraq in spite of all the challenges. After decades of damage by a repressive regime it will take time to build Iraqi institutions, improve infrastructure and services for the long term, and for the private sector to flourish. Continued violence and sabotage have also inevitably hampered the reconstruction effort. However, there has been continued economic growth; power generation is higher than before the conflict; more Iraqis now have access to drinking water and sewerage systems; thousands of health care and education facilities have been rehabilitated; transport and telecommunication systems are improving and civil society groups and the media are flourishing and finding ways of engaging in the political process.

The Iraqi Government is leading on the rebuilding and development of Iraq. New Iraqi led donor co-ordination mechanisms are up and running in Baghdad. Sector working groups in health, education, energy, and rule of law are meeting regularly, led by Iraqi Ministries with support from the UN, the World Bank, and a range of donors. There is now an increasing number of international donors and representatives of the multilateral agencies based in Iraq.

DFID has so far disbursed more than £290 million on humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq since 2003. DFID's programme in 2005–06 focuses on:

advising the Iraqi Government on macro-economic reform; building Iraqi Government institutions at the centre of government in Baghdad and in the four southern provinces; improving power and water services in the south and helping the Iraqi government to develop a long-term power sector strategy; supporting the development of Iraqi civil society organisations; and encouraging broad participation in the political process.

DFID also provided £70 million to the international reconstruction fund facility for Iraq (IRFFI). The UN and the World Bank manage the IRFFI and continue to carry out a range of programmes in sectors such as health, education, and water and sanitation.

The following table outlines some of the major reconstruction achievements.

Area of reconstruction Achievements
Economy Rapid recovery with 50 per cent. growth in 2004. Inflation is under control and the new Iraqi Dinar is holding its value against the dollar. DFID support contributed to the Iraqi Government's successful negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2004 and 2005, paving the way for agreement of an 80 per cent. Paris Club debt reduction deal.
Power In spite of regular sabotage and breakdowns of dilapidated infrastructure, power generation has remained above pre-war levels. However, demand has also increased dramatically as a result of economic growth and greater use of electrical goods. DFID has repaired transmission lines securing electricity supplies for 1.5 million residents of Basra; improved distribution to 13 areas of Basra and by summer 2006 will have added or secured 720MW.
Water and sanitation 1.25 million more Iraqis have access to drinking water than before the conflict; 9.6 million more have access to a sewerage system. DFID has repaired 4,880 leaks across the four southern governorates; provided technical advice for a major sewage installation in al Amarah, providing up to half the city's population with access to a piped system and replacing open sewage channels; and is currently establishing water towers to improve supplies to 500,000 people in the poorest district of Basra city.
Health The Iraqi Government reports that health care spending is up more than 30 times on the pre-conflict level. Extensive disease control programmes, led by the Iraqi Government and UN agencies, have led to a decline in malaria, polio, measles, and rubella. Over 150 health care facilities have been rehabilitated and several thousand health care professionals have been trained.
Education Over 3,500 schools have been rehabilitated. 69 million textbooks have been delivered to 19,000 schools.More than 30,000 school teachers and administrators trained.
Civil Society 2,500 Iraqi NGOs are now registered with the Iraqi Government. Freedom of speech has been established in law and independent media is flourishing. DFID has funded new, independent radio and TV stations in the south, and is supporting grass-roots Iraqi organisations such as women's groups, trade unions, and student organisations.

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