Advanced Survey of Hydrogeological Resources in Iraq Phase-II (ASHRI-2) – Second Official Launching

When, local time: 
Tuesday, 2 December 2014 -
9:30am to 11:00am
Where: 
Iraq, Erbil
Type of Event: 
Meeting by Member States or Institutions
Contact: 
a.lueck@unesco.org

The event will serve the purpose to deliver a second launching of the project " Advanced Survey of Hydrogeological Resources in Iraq Phase-II (ASHRI-2)", an EU-funded, and GoI-co funded 10 Mio EUR project in support of the national water sector of Iraq, at the facilities of the official project partner of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, in Erbil. The event follows the launching ceremony held in Baghdad, earlier on 28 October 2013.
In the framework of their significant efforts towards supporting the Iraqi government in overcoming the devastating impact of water shortage, UNESCO and the European Union (EU) launched the phase II of the "Advanced Survey of Hydrogeological Resources in Iraq" (ASHRI-2), a pioneering initiative that aims to improve national capacities in the exploration and integrated management of groundwater resources, and enhance both, efficiency and effectiveness of public planning and policy making in the National Water Sector.

The programme lasting for a total of 30 months, will be undertaken by UNESCO Office for Iraq, with the main collaboration of the Ministry of Water Resources in Baghdad, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources in the Kurdistan Regional Government, in addition to other relevant line-ministries.

Acquiring a full understanding of the water shortage in Iraq is the first step towards effectively addressing its deep social and economic impacts. By its completion, this survey will constitute the main technical reference for all stakeholders in the country's water sector. It will provide new data, gaining extended scientific knowledge about the deep groundwater bodies of Iraq’s hydrogeological resources, which will lead to informed decision making and effective policies for an improved water resources’ management.

Considerable variability in the climate, upstream supply, and domestic use has caused Iraq’s hydrological system to undergo dramatic change over the past 30 years. Reservoirs, lakes and rivers are diminished to critical levels, while water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Iraq’s primary sources of surface water, have fallen to less than a third of their normal capacity. The government estimates that it is down to 20 per cent of its reserves, and that close to two million Iraqis face severe drinking water shortages. The lack of integrated and up-to-date information on hydrogeological resources is significantly undermining the government's efforts to address the growing water shortage of the country..

Based on the baseline of existing knowledge established by UNESCO during the first phase of this project in 2010, this new advanced survey will serve to update the information available, and improve governmental capacities in terms of interpretation, exploration, and sustainable utilization of hydrogeological resources, in addition to aquifers and soil management - a key factor to address water shortages and promote sustainable agricultural development.

Through an EU-fund of five million Euros, "ASHRI-2" aims to update the information available and improve the government's management of the country's groundwater. Building upon UNESCO's long experience and studies in the field of drought and water resources management in Iraq, this programme will be crucial to address water shortage and its dangerous outcomes on health and environment.