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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

IRAQ: Plans for housing rehabilitation approved

ANKARA, 26 February 2004 (IRIN) - A project on urban and housing rehabilitation has been agreed upon by the United Nations Human Settlements programme (UN-HABITAT) and officials of Iraqi ministries. At present there is a dire need for additional housing in the country.

"The consequences are high numbers of people housed in sub-standard shelter and unplanned neighbourhoods. There is further insufficient capacity for lending or investment, land and property management systems lack resources and equipment, an impoverished private sector is reluctant to risk capital, and there is limited supply of adequate rental housing stock," a UN-HABITAT official told IRIN from Nairobi on Thursday, stressing the urgent need for such a programme.

The housing shortfall for the country's centre and south is estimated at 1.4 million units, according to the UN agency, while in the three northern governorates of Dahuk, Arbil and Ninewa, about one in every three people live in grossly substandard housing or neighbourhoods. Many of these were internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The programme has six components: local governance and municipal management; poverty reduction and slum upgrading; employment generation in the construction sector, a housing finance/ housing fund; a policy and strategy for shelter; and urban information systems.

"Iraq's population growth rate is high with some 2.7 percent and, by 2015 Iraq will have a population in excess of 35 million," the official said.

With a population of six million in Baghdad alone, the level of urbanisation stood at around 70 percent and poverty levels in urban areas were close to 30 percent, with unemployment estimated at an average of 40 per cent, the aid worker explained.

The formulation of this rehabilitation programme was requested by the UN-HABITAT High-level Advisory Panel for the Reconstruction of Iraq at its first meeting in Amman in early December, 2003.

Although the programme was not as yet financed, Iraqi counterpart ministries of UN-HABITAT were pursuing its funding through different channels, the official said. Priority needs for international assistance to this programme were estimated at US $ 369 million over the next four years.

Due to the security situation, at present, UN-HABITAT is implementing projects inside Iraq using local experts and sub-contracted NGOs.

 

Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Human Rights

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