UN aims to help Iraq improve housing for its poor

2 June 2011

The United Nations well help the Iraqi Government to improve housing for the poor under an agreement announced today by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).

Under a memorandum signed in Baghdad, the UN will “collaborate in the implementation of the Iraq’s national housing policy, especially in implementing the pro-poor aspects of the policy, including informal settlement upgrading, special housing programmes for the poor and vulnerable, improving access to land and housing finance, and enacting revised housing construction norms and standards to reflect current affordability levels.”

UN-Habitat also announced the publication of its new study, Urban Baghdad: Impact of Conflict on Daily Life, which calls on the Government to collaborate with Iraqi NGOs, civil society, the UN and international partners to develop new urban policies for improving everyday life in Baghdad.

The report, developed jointly by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN-Habitat and the UN mission in Iraq (UNAMI), highlights the displacement and fragmentation of the city caused by conflict, as well as poor access to basic services for internally displaced persons, host communities and those returning from displacement, the agency said.

According to the agency, violence has left more than a tenth of Baghdad’s population of about seven million displaced, many within the city, living in “unacceptable conditions with limited access to basic services or income. Approximately 48,000 families live in 136 camps dotted around the city.

The report was launched during the visit of the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Joan Clos, to Iraq, accompanied by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Christine McNab.

Dr. Clos noted that 70 per cent of Iraqis live in cities. “That number is growing, particularly in the five past years due to internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have migrated in large numbers to cities like Baghdad. Embracing new urban planning can be a future solution to improve daily life for Iraqi citizens. Well-planned and managed cities are centres of economic growth and job creation,” he said.

Ms. McNab said: “Baghdad’s current housing situation reflects not only the growing pains of cities globally, but also the extraordinary additional stresses experienced in cities throughout Iraq resulting from years of conflict, sanctions and displacement. This now represents one of the Government of Iraq’s most immediate challenges.”

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Secretary-General calls for greater use of science and technology to build better cities

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for the use of science and technology to build better cities, saying that most global population growth in the coming years is expected to occur in urban areas of developing countries, with rising demand for land, housing, basic services and infrastructure.