UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
IRAQ: Living conditions still poor, survey says
BAGHDAD, 16 May 2005 (IRIN) - Living conditions in Iraq suffered after the fall of Saddam Hussein, according to a survey conducted by the government, which highlighted problems in health, education and basic supplies.
“Illiteracy, malnutrition, unemployment, power and water are the important topics that need to be addressed urgently by the Iraqi government,” minister of Planning and Development Cooperation, Mehdy al-Hafidh, told IRIN in Baghdad on Sunday.
The Iraqi Living Conditions (ILC) survey, released on 12 May, was carried out by the Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation (MoPDC) with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The survey examined housing conditions and the availability of infrastructure and services, as well as environmental issues. Officials said the results could not be compared to previous statistics from Iraq, as the country is now entering a different era. They say previous numbers may not be as accurate.
A total of 21, 668 households in 18 Iraqi governorates were surveyed between April and May 2004 with the exceptions of Arbil and Dahuk in the north, where interviews took place in August 2004.
Electricity shortages, poor sewage systems and a lack of clean water were the overriding issues when it came to basic needs, according to the survey.
Only 43 percent of those in rural areas had access to clean water compared to 66 percent in urban areas.
More than 78 percent had less than 12 hours of power per day. Nearly 63 percent of respondents were not connected to any sewage system, with those in rural areas being worse off.
It was found that 25 percent of those interviewed were illiterate. In the northern governorate of Dahuk, 55 percent of interviewees had not completed primary school.
The survey showed that nearly a quarter of children aged between six months and five years were malnourished.
“My son died last year due to malnutrition, due to the fact that we have little money to offer for medical treatment. Something should be done to prevent more children dying in this country,” Hanan Kubaissy, a mother of four, told IRIN in Bataween, a suburb of the capital.
However, unemployment had decreased, when compared to 2002, according to al-Hafidh.
The number of people employed has increased from 5,193,000 in December 2002 to 6,025,000 in May 2004. Only 11 percent of those who were in the army under the previous regime had been able to find work, indicating a need for retraining.
“I was an army officer during Saddam’s regime and today I have no work as the government said we could not go back to our jobs as officers and I’m unemployed. I don’t have any other skills. I joined the army when I was 16,” Ahmed Jomaa, 29, told IRIN in Baghdad.
The survey also reported that 93 percent of people who were employed had more than one job to help make ends meet and that nearly a quarter were earning less than US $70 per week.
A similar survey was conducted in Iraq in 1997 but it did not include the northern governorates. However, aid workers argue that the latest survey could not be compared with the previous one.
Alia al-Dalli, a spokeswoman for the UNDP in the Jordanian capital, Amman said there had been difficulties in conducting the survey because of insecurity but that experienced and skilled interviewers had delivered reliable data.
“The survey not only allows for a good understanding of socio-economic conditions in Iraq but will also be a building block for further analysis, that will certainly benefit the development and reconstruction processes in Iraq,” Staaffan de Mistura, the UN Deputy Special Representative for Humanitarian, Reconstruction and Development Affairs, said in a statement issued by the UN on Thursday.
Themes: (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Education, (IRIN) Environment, (IRIN) Food Security, (IRIN) Governance
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