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USAID: Iraq Reconstruction Weekly Update

19 Mar 2006
ELECTRICITY USAID's goals include the installation of new generation and emergency repair or rehabilitation of power generation facilities and electrical grids. The Ministry of Electricity, USAID, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been working since May 2003 to restore the capacity of Iraq's power system. Highlights this week USAID recently surpassed the 100-hour mark reliability test for its V94 turbine generator at the Kirkuk power plant. The V94 passed its one and only reliability test without issue and was immediately placed in normal service providing continuous power to the Iraqi grid. With an output of 260 MW, the enormous gas-powered combustion turbine generator helped USAID-funded projects provide for 48 percent of Baghdad's total electrical consumption on March 08. In addition to the V94, its sister generator, the smaller V64 (65 MW) provides a combined output capability of 325 MW. The V94 is one of the most efficient units in the Iraqi system. The Kirkuk facility, located 200 km north of Baghdad, lies at a major hub for the 132-kV and 400-kV grids. This area is near an existing natural gas pipe-line, which was tapped to provide fuel to the new gas-powered combustion turbines. In the face of what is sure to be a very hot summer, securing a sustainable output from the V94, V64, and other USAID-funded plants will greatly increase the overall electrical output to support the overwhelming demand for air conditioners and other equipment during the hottest months in Iraq. key Accomplishments to Date By October 2003, U.S. government efforts rehabilitated electric power capacity to produce peak capacity of 4,518 MW, greater than the pre-war level of 4,400 MW. Peak production reached 5,365 MW in August 2004 and a peak of 5,389 MW in July 2005. USAID has added 1,492 MW of capacity through new generation, maintenance, and rehabilitation work, and also repaired a 400 kV transmission line. USAID restored two 108MW generators at the Baghdad South power plant to full generation by Summer 2005. Although some work still continues, the generators have been converted to operate on heavy residual fuel oil from a near-by refinery. At Qudas, USAID completed a project to convert two generators, producing 80 MW each, to operate on crude/heavy fuel oil instead of diesel which is in short supply. USAID has completed a project to rehabilitate 13 existing substations and construct 24 new substations in Baghdad. 25 of these substations were completed in December 2005, on schedule, and the Ministry of Electricity is in the process of energizing and integrating them into the Baghdad distribution network. Additionally, USAID supplied all equipment to the Ministry for the other 12 substations in January 2005, and they are currently under construction by the Ministry. When completed in the next few months they will provide increased distribution capacity for Baghdad. ECONOMIC GROWTH USAID works with Iraqi institutions to establish an environment for sustainable economic growth. Assistance empowers policy makers to formulate and execute decisions based on economic data, and to implement modern best practices in economic governance. USAID projects provide a framework for private sector trade, commerce, and investment throughout Iraq. Highlights this week USAID awards three grants – totaling $8.9 million – to establish a sustainable microfinance industry in Iraq. USAID's private sector development program, Izdihar, recently awarded the grants, each for approximately $3 million, to three international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help build the capacity of Iraqi microfinance institutions throughout all of Iraq's 18 provinces. Two of the recipients already have existing operations in Iraq. The NGOs will provide no-interest loans to start up or expand small businesses in order to create new jobs in Iraq. Microfinance loan amounts typically range from $250 up to $25,000 and enable low-income or otherwise disadvantaged individuals to access small amounts of credit that are not usually provided by banks. Through these grants, the NGOs will train Iraqi institutions in management and credit practices so the local organizations can become sustainable and profitably manage the loan portfolios for years to come. Iraq Investment Promotion Agency opened for business last week. Located at a renovated facility in central Baghdad, the Investment Promotion Agency has begun work to encourage domestic and international investment in the Iraqi economy. The agency was created as the result of an agreement last summer between USAID and the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development, which signed on behalf of six ministries in the Government of Iraq. USAID has provided institutional support for the Investment Promotion Agency, equipment for the facility, and training for its seven-person staff in how to manage the organization and promote investment in Iraq. Three Iraqi ministries – Planning and Development, Trade, and Industry and Minerals – supplied the initial staff for the agency. With the launch of the new agency, Iraq has now joined the more than 160 other countries with similar organizations that compete for approximately $7 trillion annually in foreign direct investment worldwide. The Iraq Investment Promotion Agency will play a leading role in job creation and economic development. The new Iraqi Trade Information Center is now open in Baghdad and ready to offer its services to Iraqi business organizations. Iraq's Minister of Trade and Minister of Industry and Minerals both attended the grand opening held last week for the facility on the Baghdad International Fairgrounds. USAID collaborated with the Ministry of Trade in establishing the new organization, providing support for renovations and office equipment as well as ongoing training for its staff. The Iraqi Trade Information Center (ITIC) will serve as a one-stop shop for private firms seeking information about trade and investment opportunities in Iraq, helping to stimulate trade and create jobs in Iraq. Also, businesses are now able to use the facility's conference center, meeting rooms, Internet services, library, and training facilities and later this year will be able to access information online through the organization's Web site. Key Accomplishments to Date Assisted the Government of Iraq to develop and submit the first filing in the WTO accession process - the Memorandum of Foreign Trade Regime. Provided technical assistance and information on contracting opportunities for Iraqi businesses and entrepreneurs through business centers. Worked with the Ministry of Finance to introduce the new Iraqi dinar. Created more than 77,000 public works jobs through the National Employment Program. Provided technical assistance and capacity building to three private sector banks to develop their own lending programs. Trained over 700 Iraqis in International Accounting Practices. Assisted in management of $21 million micro-credit program. Provided over 40,000 hours of microfinance training in 2004-2005. Improved statistical analysis, monetary policymaking, and bank supervision procedures at Iraq's Central Bank; offered a two-week banking course to Central Bank staff with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Evaluated and updated commercial laws on private sector and foreign investment. Assisted in developing the 5 percent reconstruction levy on imports; built capacity of customs officials to implement levy. Developed a government-wide IT strategy to automate planning, budgeting and reporting processes across ministries. AGRICULTURE USAID's goals are to work in conjunction with Iraqi ministries, the private sector, and higher education institutions to revitalize agricultural production, stimulate income and employment generation, nurture rural development initiatives, and rehabilitate the natural resource base. Highlights this week USAID provides repairs for agricultural machinery. Increasing the availability of agricultural machinery in good working order is an important part of improving wheat production in Iraq. Most wheat production in Iraq is mechanized; farmers depend on tractors to cultivate their crop. USAID is working to increase the availability of agricultural machinery for Iraqi farmers through direct repair of tractors and by strengthening repair and maintenance services for agricultural machinery. The direct repair of tractors is currently underway; the program will return to service at least 5,000 tractors. To date, 1,437 tractors have been repaired in workshops located around Iraq. USAID has increased the capability of approximately 250 Iraqi mechanics to provide repair and maintenance services for agricultural machinery. This includes 28 mechanics in rural areas, who USAID has supplied with training to upgrade their skills and with the tools necessary to open workshops with the capacity to provide repair services to the owners of approximately 3,000 tractors and 250 combine harvesters. New nurseries help improve grape production in northern Iraq. Grape production is an important economic activity in Iraq, particularly in Dahuk, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah governorates. Grape production requires relatively little investment and is a source of income for thousands of families in Iraq. A major problem for grape producers in Iraq is the lack of improved grape varieties that enable increases to the quantity and quality of the grapes. In November 2005, USAID conducted a benchmarking study and selected 20 of the highest quality and most commercially valuable grape varieties cultivated in northern Iraq. Over the past few months, USAID has funded the collection of 1.2 million cuttings of these varieties from vineyards throughout northern Iraq, which will be used to create the three private nurseries in Dahuk, Arbil and Sulaymaniyah. USAID promotes private sector development for improved maize production. One of the major constraints facing Iraqi maize farmers is a lack of quality agricultural inputs. The use of hybrid seed is a particularly important part of improving maize production; USAID conducted maize trials in the 2004-2005 season and determined that hybrid seeds were 30 percent more productive than local open pollinated varieties. In order to improve maize production in Iraq, USAID is implementing a program for the 2006 season that will provide hybrid maize seed for 200 farmers, as well as develop local businesses to supply agricultural inputs and extension services to farmers. USAID is implementing the 2006 maize production program in cooperation with two Iraqi NGOs, one in Baghdad and one in Mosul. The NGOs will distribute 50 tons of high quality hybrid maize seed procured by USAID to farmers in Al Anbar, Ninawa, Diyala and Wasit governorates. With proper cultivation, and inputs such as fertilizers and pest control, this maize will produce between 17,500 and 25,000 tons of grain. Key Accomplishments to Date High Value Crops Improved Date Palm Output: Established date palm nurseries in 13 governorates that will expand Iraqi palm tree population by 410,000 new trees per year. Provided Farm Machinery Training & Tools: Trained 28 mechanics in farm machinery repair and supplied tools to help establish private repair businesses. Increased Olive Tree Population: 9,000 olive trees have been planted in 16 demonstration plots throughout the country. Rehabilitated Veterinary Clinics: 55 veterinary clinics have been rehabilitated, serving more than 108,000 animal breeders. Crop Production Seed Improvement: Distributed 169 wheat seed cleaners to nine NGOs in 18 governorates. Produced over 29,000 metric tons of grade 1, treated wheat seed for 2006-07 season, which will plant 225,000 hectares of land. Increased Training: 175 operators trained in wheat seed cleaning and treating. Farm Machinery Repair: To date, a total of 1,437 tractors have been repaired of a planned 5,000 nation wide. Soil & Water Management Strategy Development: Initiated a 10-ministry effort to develop the Iraq water and land use strategy. Grant Provision - Irrigation: Provided small-scale grants that increased canal and water infrastructure improvements on 320,000 acres of land serving 445,000 Iraqis. NATIONAL GOVERNANCE USAID continues to plan and implement a variety of programs, undertaken in partnership with Iraqi counterparts, matching the needs of the evolving Iraqi democracy. In particular, USAID provided extensive support to the Iraqi National Assembly in the lead-up to the December 2005 elections. Highlights this week Nearly 37,000 Iraqis have participated in civic forums on the role of the national Parliament. Despite the curfews and increased violence, Iraqis remained committed to improving the political process by continuing to conduct trainings and grassroots organizing in civic forums. Last week alone 14,000 citizens received training on the role and responsibilities of elected members of parliament (MPs) as well as how to advocate for citizens' rights, through USAID's implementing partner the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Over 40,000 booklets on Structure, Role, and Public Life of the Council of Representatives were also distributed. Launched in late January 2006, the Civic Outreach to Citizens on the Role of Parliament program has partnered 24 local Iraqi non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with NDI in promoting long-term democratic processes through civic awareness and participation. The program seeks to encourage informed and responsible political participation and build support for the development of important democratic values. Both citizens and decision-makers will be made more aware of their roles and responsibilities as players in a democratic process and the shaping of a national political, social and economic agenda. Iraqi NGOs have launched a letter writing campaign to bridge the gap between new Members of Parliament and their constituents. Building on assistance and training from USAID, partner NGOs have started a door-to-door campaign designed to educate community members on the role of the new Council of Representatives and to solicit citizens' concerns and interests through letters. The letters will later be distributed to MPs during the Civic Leaders Forum scheduled to start later this month. In one week over 11,000 letters to MPs were submitted from 16 governorates, a remarkable achievement that called on citizen to overcome ingrained fears of addressing officials and expressing what they want. The letters have emphasized the need to increase employment, improve delivery of basic services, fight corruption, build the security capacity such as increasing the army, and improve women's rights. USAID partners have completed the first fuel subsidy focus group, reaching out to Iraqis throughout the country. These 10-person focus groups, drawing on Iraqis from ethnically and religiously distinct regions of Iraq, are helping to gauge the level of public awareness on the issue of fuel subsidies and judge public reactions to different educational themes relating to this topic. The results from this first of three focus groups have already helped Iraqi leaders in developing messages that explain to the Iraqi people the necessity and benefits of fuel prices liberalization. The government of Iraq has recently begun to reduce fuel subsidies, a move – required in order to qualify for IMF debt relief – that will benefit Iraqi businesses, reduce pressure on the national budget, and help establish a sound foundation for Iraq's economy. PROGRAM OBJECTIVES Strengthen the capacity of the legislative branch of the Iraqi interim and transitional governments and its staff during the interim and transition period to include lawmaking, representation, executive oversight, and other responsibilities as provided by the Transitional Administrative Law. Assist the Executive Authority, the Presidency Council, and the Council of Ministers and its presiding Prime Minister to develop governing processes, rules of procedure, regulations and directives necessary to enforce the laws, and to implement government programs and policies. Support the process for adopting an Iraqi constitution that promotes democratic principles and values through technical assistance that includes, but is not limited to, providing comparative constitutional expertise; organizing constitutional conferences and conventions; facilitating public awareness, education, and participation; and assisting in the conduct of a national referendum or other ratifying mechanism. TRANSITION INITIATIVES USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) supports the transition to a participatory, stable, and democratic country. OTI provides quick-dispensing, high-impact grants meeting critical needs—providing short-term employment, restoring basic government and community services, increasing access to information and communication, and encouraging protection of human rights. Highlights this week USAID provides support to a newspaper specializing in women's issues. This newspaper, based in Northern Iraq, is a non-political publication focused on promoting the role of women in Iraq. In September 2003, the newspaper published its first edition, printing 1,500 copies. Because of the positive response, printing was increased to 3,000 copies in spite of the extra financial burden. Previous USAID grants helped the newspaper cover this additional cost, expand its print-run, and begin publishing an annex in Arabic with distribution to new areas in Iraq. The current USAID grant provided necessary resources and office equipment for a two day workshop for 27 women who live in a remote northern district, where a new branch office was opening. The workshop focused on discussions around the role of women in Iraqi society. It is hoped that the continued support from USAID will assist the newspaper to actualize its goal of becoming a national newspaper addressing the complex issues that face women in Iraqi society and help advocate for women's rights. USAID increases social participation through rehabilitation of a community youth center in a Southern Iraqi city. A southern Iraqi city with a population of 250,000 has a dire lack of public facilities, including recreational youth centers. Many of the public buildings and recreational places are in ruin due to negligence and a lack of funds for repair from the local government. USAID, in coordination with the local authorities, decided to award a grant to rehabilitate one of the key youth centers. Approximately 2,000 local youth now have a community center that promotes major sports and provides a place for social interaction. This grant has also played an important role in creating unity among the community and a significant role in mitigating the rising crime rate and tensions in the region. USAID funds debris cleanup campaigns in Southern Iraq city. A major southern city has recently undergone a 30-day cleanup campaign for removal of trash and debris. The section of the city affected has a population of 200,000. While most of the people who live in this area rely on the agriculture sector for work, low crop yields and an increasing population have led to high unemployment. USAID, in coordination with the local governorate council, awarded a temporary employment grant to remove refuse and rubble in 10 neighborhoods. This initiative provided employment for 650 local residents and 81 skilled and professional workers and has helped to ease tensions during this transitional period. Key Accomplishments to Date Awarded 5,030 small grants totaling $336 million for quick impact activities that support good governance, civil society, conflict management and mitigation, human rights and transitional justice. Funded 147 grants totaling over $5.5 million that focus on women's issues, including supporting the rehabilitation of 46 women's centers in Iraq. Rehabilitated over 264 Iraqi national ministries, schools, clinics and other municipal buildings. Supporting 65 Iraqi groups in documenting human rights abuses of the Ba'athist regime and promoting peace, tolerance, and reconciliation. Met critical needs during and immediately after the conflict by providing short-term employment, restoring basic government and community services, increasing Iraqi access to information and communication and encouraging protection of human rights.
Child Aid International