International Workshop on Sustainable Management
of the Iraqi Marshlands
Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands Project
International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC), UNEP DTIE
8 December 2006
Workshop Background and Objectives
UNEP organized the International Workshop on Sustainable Management of the Iraqi Marshlands Management on 8 December 2006, in Kyoto, Japan. The workshop was held within the framework of UNEP’s on-going project, Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands Project, which has been supported by the Government of Japan as well as the Government of Italy.
The workshop was organized to take stock of the conditions of the Iraqi Marshlands, with specific objectives to analyze results and achievements of various management initiatives on the ground, to receive feedback from Iraqi stakeholders on these initiatives, and to discuss options to further support sustainable marshlands management practices.
A high level Iraqi delegation participated in this meeting, headed by Mr. Tuama Helou, Deputy Minister of Environment, and including Deputy Governors of Basrah and Missan, Deputy Head of the Thi-Qar Governing Council, and other national, governorate and local representatives. The workshop was also attended by senior level officials from the Government of Japan, and representatives from the Government of Italy, the US Embassy, UNDP, UN-HABITAT, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Japan, and various other institutions.
Presentations and discussions on the theme of sustainable management of the Iraqi Marshlands were held in five sessions as follows:
Session 1 Welcome and Opening Remarks
Session 2 Setting the Scene: Sustainable Management of the Iraqi Marshlands
Session 3 National Government Initiatives: from environmental, water resources, and social infrastructure perspectives
Session 4 Local communities and Governorates: Progress and Local Perspectives on Iraqi
Session 5 Panel Discussion: Financing and Supporting Sustainable Iraqi Marshland
Session 4 :Local Communities and Governorates: Progress and Local Perspectives on Iraqi Marshland management
In this session, various community representatives presented the importance of the Marshlands to the communities and residents, how various initiatives have impacted their living conditions, and priorities for further action from their perspectives. The governorate representatives presented the role of governorates in the Iraqi Marshland management. Research and capacity building activities of research centres within University of Basra and University of Thi-Qar were also presented. The session was co-chaired by Dr. Ali Al-Lami and Dr. Chizuru Aoki.
Speakers to the session were as follows:
- Mr. Adnan K. Jaber, Chief of Al-Memona Municipalities
- Mr. Loay A. Abbas, Deputy Governor, Basrah Governorate
- Prof. Malik H. Ali, Director, Marine Science Centre, University of Basrah
- Mr. Mohan Abd. Allah S., Deputy Governor, Missan Governorate
- Mr. Hussain Weriwesh Mohammed, Deputy Head, Thi-Qar Governorate Council
- Dr. Talib Eghab, Marsh Research Centre, University of Thi-Qar
All of the speakers emphasized the lack of basic public services in the marshlands, the need to provide them, and the lack of available funds to extend such services. Highlights of individual speaker are as follows.
Mr. Adnan Jaber, Chief of Al-Memona Municipalities, quoted the Koran about the importance of water, as “We made from water everything that is life.” He indicated that the marshland area is the birthplace of civilization, and its destruction is a true tragedy. He indicated that there has been significant improvement in some areas of the Marshlands, especially with the UNEP project. He showed a video
footage of the drinking water treatment plant installed under the UNEP project in Al-Hadam, and spoke on the positive impacts with the provision of safe drinking water. Mr. Jaber indicated that the provision of safe drinking water has made significant positive impacts on the people’s lives. In particular, there has been a marked improvement in the health conditions of the residents, as evidenced by the decreased level of diseases.
Mr. Loay Abbas, Deputy Governor of Basrah Governorate, emphasized the need for funding to raise public awareness and the need to establish industries using the natural resources available within the marshlands. Examples of such industries may include canning factories and dairy processing plants. Other priority needs include the establishment of small reverse osmosis water plants and hospitals. He indicated that the basic infrastructure is not available in the marsh area of his Governorate, and it is difficult for the residents to live without roads, education, electricity, and the basic human services. The level of help provided by the national ministries is too limited to help the people, he stated. Strategies of the Basrah Governorate for the marshland management included: the restoration of the marshes (with numerical targets), economic development, establishment of sanctuaries to protect animals and plants, reduction in the salinity level in water, utilization of reeds, protection of endangered species, and implementation of laws to protect the marsh environment.
Mr. Mohan Abd. Allah, Deputy Governor of Missan Governorate, explained the role of Governorate Councils for the Marshland management, including monitoring of projects being carried out by organizations and preparing planning strategies and coordination with community groups, among others. He explained that the marsh people suffered greatly under the former regime, which created a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe. With the fall of the regime, people were finally made aware of the catastrophe. He stated that the priorities for his Governorate are to improve the conditions of the inhabitants by providing them with basic services, and to restore the Marshlands, including water. Mr. Allah requested UNEP and other donors to support initiatives inside his Governorate.
Mr. Hussein Weriwesh Mohammed, Deputy Head of Thi-Qar Governorate Council reported that after several meetings and discussions, the Governorate Council has come up with a priority list for two types of Marshland areas for strategic plan, the first is for the shallow areas of the marshes, and the second is for the deeper areas. Mr. Mohammed also requested UNEP to continue with its initiatives inside Thi-Qar.
Professor Malik presented the activities of Marine Science Centre, and highlighted some relevant research for marshland management, inducing spawning to enhance fish stock in the marshlands and the establishment of a scientific panel to undertake studies in a nature reserve established in the Tigris-Euphrates basin. The Centre publishes the Journal of Marina Mesopotamica, MARSH Bulletin magazine (in cooperation with the College of Science) and the Iraqi Journal of Aquaculture. The scientific groups of the Marine Science Centre monitor the environmental factors and the biodiversity of marshlands and Shatt Al-Arab River system.
Dr. Talib Eghab presented the activities of Marsh Research Centre, which included research on pollution and environment, and organizing training courses within the UNEP Project.
The discussion following the presentation clarified that US$150 million has been allocated from the central government to the three governorates initially. The strategic plan developed by Italy estimates that total of $3.5 billion is necessary to establish and provide basic services in the area for 5 years. Compared to this need, the amount of budget allocated thus far is low. The allocation also includes money spent on provision of basic services, especially roads.