DSRSG McNab Visits Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Assesses UN-Funded Projects

By Sabah Abdulrahman
To assess the success the new UN integrated approach of Local Area Development Plan (LADP) that aims to assist local governmental administrations to overcome their planning deficiency, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Development and Humanitarian Support Mrs. Christine McNab visited the District of ‘Said Sadiq’, 60 km east of Sulaymaniya, on 27 January 2010.


The objective of the LADP in ‘Said Sadiq’, coordinated by ILO/UNOPS, is to support local authorities and civil society stakeholders in the preparation of a five-year, multi-sectoral district development plan and building the capacity for local strategic development planning.


The package of projects under LADP in ‘Said Sadiq’ included a Youth center rehabilitated by UN-Habitat, and a small housing complex constructed and furnished by WHO to tempt doctors stay in the town with their families. Mrs. McNab also visited the beekeeping project supported by UNDP to train local veterinary staff and farmers how to diagnose and control bee diseases. Earlier that day, DSRSG McNab had met with the Mayor and members of the local community and the Sulaymaniya Provincial Council, who were all consulted and engaged in planning for the projects that were designed to meet the prioritized local needs. In the meeting Mayor Arkan expressed to DSRSG McNab the KRG and local population’s appreciation for the LADP saying the town was still in need to more similar projects given that the area was leveled with ground by the former regime in 1988 and later became scene to civil war for years. Soz Abdulqadir, member of Sulaymaniya Provincial Council and head of the LADP Steering Committee echoed a similar request. “Thanks to the good cooperation between the government and the UN agencies, the LADP is an example of success. It is essential that the LADP is extended for another phase,” she said.


Many UN agencies are engaged in LADP activities in “Said Sadiq” through conducting vocational training on identifying key sectors of present and future demand of skills in the local market, rehabilitation/equipping investments and training of trainers. LADP supports business loans and recipients of the grants through business management training and training of trainers and NGOs to deliver micro-enterprise development training to low-income women, Youth and other vulnerable groups.


A day earlier, DSRSG McNab had visited the Tuberculosis (TB) Centre in Sulaymaniya, which was renovated by WHO in 2000. In 2002 WHO started the Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) strategy in the fight against TB within the Governorate. The UN Agency restarted the program in 2008 with Global Fund support. The current phase of WHO support to the project includes developing the capacity of its medical and laboratory staff through different training activities inside and outside Iraq. Since 2008, 27 training courses were conducted for a total of 430 paramedics, laboratory, pharmacy and statistical staffs for selected health staff in Sulaymaniya, including from the TB Centre. Touring the TB Center, Mrs. McNab stressed on improving procurement procedures to allow smooth supply of X-ray films and other equipments to promote quality and quantity of the services provided.


In Erbil governorate, DSRSG McNab and her team visited on 30 January 2010 the village of Shekh Mamundian where UNESCO implements a project to restore a “karez”. A “karez” is a man-made underground aqueduct system used by many rural communities in Kurdistan region to bring water from the ground to the surface. Mayors of Shaqlawa and Basirma, as well as the KRG director-general of irrigation received Mrs. McNab and her team upon arrival to the village mosque where the “karez” basin is located.


Invented by the Persians 4,000 years ago, this traditional technology uses no moving parts, doesn’t exhaust the aquifer, and often provides a sustainable solution for rural Iraqi communities. UNESCO recently found that the drought of 2005-2009 and lack of “karez” upkeep has caused the drying up of 70% of “karez” and contributed to the displacement of an estimated 100,000 people in the region.


The village leader (mukhtar) said income-generation in the village generally depended on agriculture (wheat, barley, cucumber, figs, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, etc.) and animal husbandry. Since the onset of drought (2005-2009) and the drying up of the “karez” in 2007, families have relied on seasonal rain-fed wheat yields and goat’s milk and yoghurt for income. Village women told visiting DSRSG McNab that “karez” would ease their household burdens once the restoration is complete. They also highlighted urgent need to a health center in the village and another school for their children.


Also on the same day, the high-level UN team visited Kani Halan village in Akre District of Dahuk Governorate. The village has about 100 donum of fertile land but the drought has resulted in a reduction of the water flow from the village spring which can now only support 40 donum of the total farm land. Sheep and goat husbandry also decreased for the same reason. To remedy the situation, OCHA contracted a local NGO to construct a basin in the village as part of a broader project to construct 29 water basins in the governorate. The project is funded under the Emergency Relief Fund (ERF). Villagers gathering at the project site told the visiting DSRSG that the basin was useful but they needed another two to fully benefit from the farm land and increase their animal raising. They also said that the lack of a proper school building for their children was a real concern.


Mrs. McNab’s first visit to Iraqi Kurdistan Region since she took office as DSRSG months ago also included inspection visits to more UN-supported projects in Dahuk governorate, as well as meetings with senior KRG officials, including separate meetings with Prime Minister Barham Salih, Deputy Prime Minster Azad Barwari and Minister of Planning, as well as Governors of Sulaymaniya and Dahuk. In all the meetings, she renewed UN commitment to continue assisting the government and people of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region and its regional government.

Last modified on Thursday, 11 February 2010 03:00

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