Iraqi officials, experts appeal to UN for drought planning aid

23 February 2010

Given the potential impact of continued droughts in Iraq, some national officials and experts have asked for United Nations assistance in planning for and in mitigating the dangers of prolonged dry spells.

The call came at the Workshop on Integrated Drought Preparedness and Management in Iraq organized by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“Let us hope that this momentum gained here will now be the force that moves Iraq forward in placing early preparedness and planning at the centre of government drought management efforts,” said Casey Walther, UNESCO representative at the workshop.

An onset of droughts in northern Iraq four years ago had driven more than 100,000 people from their homes, according to a UNESCO report released in October of last year.

The workshop on Iraq – held from 13 to 15 February in Amman, Jordan – brought together senior representatives from ten Iraqi ministries, three major cities, five provincial governments, four universities and one non-governmental organization, to examine drought planning policies in Iraq and explore reform options for the Government.

At the core of the recommendations was the development of a long-term national drought mitigation plan that could be implemented before, during and after a drought.

The group also cited the need to upgrade the country’s system of weather stations into a more robust, comprehensive national early warning system that could provide more accurate forecasts and data.

The participants called on the UN to assist in building institutional capacities in drought planning and research, promote the adherence to international conventions and treaties pertaining to water use, and foster regional and international networks for best practices in drought management.

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