USAID donates $750,000 to provide clean water to Iraqi Basra people

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed $750,000 to UNICEF to help vulnerable Iraqis in Basra get access to clean water, UNICEF announced on Thursday.
author_image Sangar Ali

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed $750,000 to UNICEF to help vulnerable Iraqis in Basra get access to clean water, UNICEF announced on Thursday.

The contribution will be used to install five pumps, rehabilitate an existing water treatment plant, and maintain water treatment projects which will bring clean and safe water to an estimated 750,000 people.

“This contribution will help us bring clean water to some of the most at-risk communities in Basra,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq.

“It and will help UNICEF ensure that 750,000 people will get safe drinking water at this critical time and a further 50,000 children will have access to clean water when they go back to school,” Hawkins added.

The donation from USAID would build on UNICEF’s water and sanitation work in the regions most affected, and its collaboration with the federal government of Iraq would help increase the output of R Zero, which will provide much-needed relief to the residents, according to UNICEF.

Reduced water flow to southern Iraq has led to the drying up of rivers and increased cases of saline-tongue up the Shatt al-Arab river, which is exacerbated by pollutants that have contaminated Basra's main source of drinking water. It has also led to a sharp increase in gastric intestinal illnesses.

The US government's contributions to UNICEF in Iraq totaled $95,542,000 million between 2017 and 2018. The funds have supported activities such as water and sanitation, child protection, and safeguarding vulnerable IDPs from the effects of winter.

For the past three months, people in Basra have staged protests which eventually spread to other Iraqi cities. Demonstrators demand better public services, clean water, regular electricity supply, employment, and an end to widespread corruption in Iraqi government institutions.

Nearly 20 people were killed during the demonstrations in Basra.

Two weeks ago, Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), a parliamentary body, announced that Basra’s contaminated water had poisoned at least 60,000 people.

Exports from Basra account for 95 percent of Iraq’s oil revenue. The country is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC.

Iraq remains high on Transparency International’s list of national levels of corruption as widespread fraud and mismanagement in state institutions are some of the most significant challenges facing the country since the fall of the former regime.

According to the group’s 2017 Corruption Index, Iraq ranks 166, the tenth most corrupt country out of a total of 176.

Editing by Nadia Riva