From: Jim Wolf, Reuters
Published January 27, 2006 12:00 AM

U.S. Fails to Carry out Most Iraq Water Projects

WASHINGTON — About 60 percent of planned water and sanitation projects in Iraq have not been carried out since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, a U.S. audit said Thursday.

Only 49 of 136 planned water- and sanitation-related projects will be completed and only about 300 of 425 planned electricity-related projects, according to the report by Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

Among the obstacles were sharply higher spending for security, strategy shifts in response to the changing Iraqi environment and increased spending to sustain programs when Iraqis take over, the report said.

It also blamed administrative expenses that had not been considered in initial planning and "plans made without a clear understanding of actual situational conditions."

The U.S. Congress appropriated $18.4 billion for relief and reconstruction in Iraq in November 2003, allocating the funds among specific infrastructure and governance sectors.

The reconstruction programs have made "significant progress" in developing Iraq's infrastructure but large-scale program changes mean that some efforts will fall short, the report said.

Water resources and sanitation took the biggest hit among the sectors, losing $2.185 billion, or 50.4 percent of its original allocation, the audit found. The next hardest-hit was the electric sector, slashed 22.5 percent to $4.31 billion.

Ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government left large sections of Iraq with polluted water, saline-saturated croplands and faulty water supply and sewage control facilities, the special inspector general said.

Security and law enforcement was originally scheduled to get the third-biggest share of reconstruction funds after the electric sector and water resources and sanitation.

But it emerged as the largest recipient, up about 54.7 percent or about $1.8 billion from its original allocation, the audit showed.

Source: Reuters

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