From: Mattias Karen, Associated Press
Published August 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Iraqi Minister Says Rebuilding Water Infrastructure May Take up to Five Years

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Iraq's water resources minister said Wednesday it could take up to five years to rebuild the country's water supply infrastructure, and that the lack of electricity and clean water has made sanitation "a desperate need" in rural areas.


Noting that improved security and better infrastructure systems "go hand in hand" in Iraq, Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid said the continued fighting and unrest is undercutting efforts to bring clean water to the Iraqi people.


"There is an extensive program for overall water management," Rashid told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a conference on global water management in Stockholm. "If we have a proper budget ... we hope to achieve our goals in three to five years."


Rashid could not say exactly how much Iraq is spending on rebuilding its water infrastructure -- most of which was neglected for decades by Saddam Hussein's regime and was then damaged further during the U.S.-led war and its bloody aftermath.


He added that while the U.S. Congress has allocated funds for water management in Iraq, "unfortunately, most of that was spent on the security situation."


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The lack of electricity in many regions is also making it increasingly difficult to clean the water that does reach rural areas.


"Sanitation is a desperate need in Iraq," he said. "Most rural places don't have sanitation. And even in Baghdad, most solid waste is sent back to the river."


Source: Associated Press


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