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Cablegate: Iraq Ministerial Partnerships Re-Start Water

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RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3088/01 2691012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251012Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9600
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003088

AIDAC
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PREL ECON SOCI PINS SNAR ENRG EPET
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SUBJECT: IRAQ MINISTERIAL PARTNERSHIPS RE-START WATER
FLOWING IN SOUTH RASHIDIYA CANALS, WITH USG HELP

1. SUMMARY: In the midst of Iraq's struggles with a crippling
drought, the USAID-funded Tatweer and Inma programs have
facilitated a partnership between the Ministry of Water
Resources (MoWR) and Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to help
secure a rehabilitation budget allotment to keep the water
flowing through the South Rashidiya Canals. The South
Rashidiya Project, the first inter-ministry, multi-
organization approach with the USAID-funded programs
Tatweer and INMA and the local Provincial Reconstruction
Team (PRT), could prove to be a pilot and model for other
development projects involving Iraqi Ministries and U.S.
assistance. It also underscores Iraqi leadership
commitment to capacity-building and solving Iraqi problems.
END SUMMARY.

----------------------------
BACKGROUND
----------------------------
2. The problems with South Rashidiya irrigation systems
are not new. Water used to flow freely in the area's
agricultural canals, serving 4,000 hectares. Deterioration
of the irrigation infrastructure, combined with drought and
shortage of water supply, has left many of the water
channels empty. Extraordinary measures are needed to re-
establish what was once considered a robust agricultural
community of 700 farms. Natik Joudi, who was an engineer
for the Ministry of Irrigation in the mid-1970s and now
works with the PRT, explained that the long-time
agricultural region was famous for its grains and orchards
and populated by farmers who have handed down their land
for generations. The project will preserve the region's
rich agriculture and traditional way of life.

----------------------------
INTEGRATED ACTION
----------------------------
3. USAID/Tatweer advisors, in cooperation with their
counterparts at the MoWR and the MoA, helped initiate a
field survey and conditional assessment of all the
irrigation systems serving the South Rashidiya area. This
recently completed survey was conducted by 40 technical
staff representatives from the MoWR and the MoA. Trained
staff from the MoWR, with assistance from MoA technicians,
will utilize an existing Geographic Information System
provided under a previous project executed by the Iraq
Transition Assistance Office (ITAO) of the US Embassy to
process the data gathered by the field survey. The end
result will be a report that will clearly identify the
maintenance and capital reconstruction effort required
to return irrigation water to the area and include
capital rehabilitation requirements for South Rashidiya
in the MoWR 2009 Budget.

----------------------------
DIFFICULTIES WITH ENERGY
----------------------------
4. Although the river's low water flow and the slow
deterioration of the area's irrigation systems are of
primary concern, power shortages do have an impact.
Currently, power shortages don't allow the canal pumps to
keep a consistent enough flow to prevent stagnation in some
of the canals, but Iraqi engineers proposed a solution for
their ministerial counterparts. Again, with USAID's help,
the Ministry of Electricity (MoE) has now joined the
partnership and will provide a "dedicated service" of
uninterrupted electricity to keep the canal pumps
operational despite reduced water levels.

----------------------------
THE TAKE-AWAY
----------------------------
5. The intent is for future surveys to be conducted by the
MoWR and the MoA without help from USAID/Tatweer,
USAID/INMA, or the Provincial Reconstruction Team, so
the Ministries can together provide the targeted assistance
needed to reclaim the large areas of deteriorated irrigated
agricultural land. This work will enable Iraq to more
accurately evaluate the supply and demand requirements for
water resources, providing data that will inform Iraq's
difficult water negotiations with its neighbors. The MoWR,
MoA, and MoE are working hand in hand with USAID and the
PRTs to institutionalize this new ministerial capacity both
on the technical side and in terms of inter-ministerial
coordination and cooperation. This case demonstrates a
commitment by Iraqi leadership to solving Iraq's problems.
It also demonstrates how integrated USG ministerial
assistance is building sustainable Iraqi institutional
capacity.


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