A ten day study tour for officials from the Ministry of Water Resources of Baghdad and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water of Erbil took place in Italy from 1 to 9 February, 2016. The study tour served as an opportunity to equip the participants with the knowledge, skills and training needed to improve governmental capacities in managing and sustaining hydrogeological resources in Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Three members of the General Commission of Groundwater (GCGW), a representative from the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council and a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (GoI) of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), accompanied by two UNESCO experts participated in the study tour, which was held in the framework of the project ‘Advanced Survey of Hydrogeological Resources in Iraq – Phase II’ (ASHRI -2), funded by the European Union. ASHRI- 2 aims at building upon existing knowledge about the hydrogeological conditions of Iraq, which was established by UNESCO during Phase 1 of the project in 2010, and on officially published data and scientific information.
Working with the leading consultants, the Iraqi counterparts agreed and endorsed a newly composed hydrogeological map of Iraq with special emphasis on deep aquifer systems across Iraq. To produce the final hydrogeological map that was approved by the Iraqi delegation, the technical consultants performed the rigorous task of clarifying, verifying and validating the wealth of information collected and collated by the Government of Iraq beforehand.
In partnership with the universities of Trieste and Padova, participants underwent on-job-training and participated in several lectures, and seminars that introduced them to the different and complex theories of modelling groundwater resources, computer based cartography and geo-scientific, mathematical and conceptual approaches.
The study tour also enabled all the parties to agree upon the final structure of the capacity building programme that will begin to be implemented in the upcoming months. The capacity building programme will aim to equip government officials with specialised surveying devices, skills and knowledge needed to ensure the sustainability of the ASHRI project, based on internationally agreed standards and respective applied best practices
A visit at the headquarters of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome concluded the tour, where the participants met with FAO-Water Experts and were presented with a summary of FAO’s groundwater related engagements in Iraq and across the region, and their plans for current and planned intervention in the water sector.