First Published: 2011-07-20

 

Iraq launches system to develop, safeguard groundwater

 

First stage on UNESCO-led national initiative to map Iraq’s underground water resources has been completed.

 

Middle East Online

BAGHDAD - The Government of Iraq reasserted its commitment to tackle the ongoing water crisis on July 3 as it completed the first stage of a national initiative to map the country’s underground water resources.

Representatives of the government, academia and the international community recently met at a high-level gathering in Baghdad to inaugurate the country’s first centralized groundwater database and commission the next phase of the multi-million dollar initiative led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Government efforts to address drought and other complex water-related issues have been hampered in recent years by a lack of reliable and up-to-date information on underground water. While the water flowing in the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers—the country’s primary sources of water—is well understood, existing knowledge of groundwater in Iraq is considered to be too incomplete, outdated and fragmented to provide a basis for strategic water planning.

In 2010, UNESCO Iraq launched a nationwide initiative to integrate Iraq’s groundwater data into a centralized database and help the government take stock of groundwater supplies. The results of the first phase were delivered during the UNESCO-sponsored event, entitled “National Validation Seminar for the Advanced Hydrogeological Survey for Sustainable Groundwater Development in Iraq (Phase I).”

A new National Hydrogeological Resources Assessment Network and Database for Iraq, known as “geoFIA” (www.geo-fia.org), was unveiled at the meeting. Designed as an interactive web-based platform, geoFIA will be used by Iraqi experts to collect, update and analyze information on groundwater on a continuous basis. GeoFIA is expected to underpin water master planning and bolster scientific research in the country.

The inauguration of geoFIA also marks the transition towards launching the next stage of the program, a two-year, US $10-million initiative that will map Iraq’s aquifers and develop a more complete understanding of water below the earth’s surface.

The National Seminar was co-hosted by the Advisory Commission of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malik (PMAC) and UNESCO, and attended by high-level dignitaries such as Chairman of the Prime Minister Advisory Commission, Mr Thamer Al-Ghadhban; H.E. Mohammed Abdullah, Deputy Minister of Industry and Minerals; H.E. Dr. Samir Raouf, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, and EU Ambassador to Iraq Dr. Jana Hybaskova. Other high-level representatives and experts from the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Planning, and Ministry of Higher Education also attended.

In his opening address, Mr. Thamer Al-Ghadhban, Chairman of the Prime Minister Advisory Commission, emphasized that a stable and safe supply of groundwater is instrumental to the national security of Iraq. Providing decision-makers with facilitated up-to-date and transparent scientific data will help encourage the Government to embrace a modernized and collaborative system for the management of groundwater resources. Mr. Thamer called on the government to engage the international community and to finance joint projects that address priority issues such as water.

H.E. Jana Hybaskova, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Iraq, praised the “efforts of the Government and UNESCO for an integrated groundwater management scheme. We intend to continue our support towards protecting Iraq’s water resources. Our priority is to build the necessary capacity for sustainable management of the increasingly scarce resource water.” The EU had provided the funds ($675,000) for the first phase of the UNESCO-led initiative.

 

Algeria’s reclusive president to mark 80th birthday

Saudi, Indonesia sign deals on first day of king’s ‘historic’ visit

Search for jihadists continues as civilians flee Mosul

Sisi defends Egypt’s fight against IS

Geologists demand return of Moroccan 'Nessie'

Crocodile stoned to death at Tunisia zoo

Yemenis struggle to survive harsh life of displacement

Tensions ease on disputed Western Sahara road

Syria army reaches outskirts of IS-held Palmyra

Israel soldier who shot Palestinian appeals conviction

26,000 Iraqis flee west Mosul in ten days

UN finds 45,000 displaced by battles around Yemen's Mokha

UN probe finds all sides committed war crimes in Aleppo

Damascus looks to Syrian Kurds to counter Turkey

Damascus clashes kill 13 regime fighters

Israel charges Jewish-born convert with Islamic State ties

Tunisia to try six police for ‘shambolic’ response to beach attack

Aid worries rise for refugees in Sudan

France slams Russia for UN Syria veto

Saudi king in Indonesia for stronger economic ties

Somali president declares severe drought ‘national disaster’

Iraq army makes desert push near Mosul

Clerics convene in Cairo for co-existence conference

Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria sanctions

Iraq forces disperse protest against premier

Report says Israel unprepared for 2014 Gaza tunnel threat

UN records 1500 Yemeni child soldiers

Nine jihadists ‘neutralised’ in Algeria

Putin says Syria sanctions hamper peace efforts

Clashes rock Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon

Erdogan threatens paper for controversial story

Shelling, checkpoint blocks UN aid chief's Yemen visit

Russia wants terrorism added to Syria talks agenda

UK judge: Tunisia police 'cowardly' over beach massacre

Palestinian elections to be held in West Bank only

Iraqi civilians flee west Mosul hardship

Netanyahu on defensive ahead of Gaza war report

Turkey begins biggest trial yet of coup suspects

Turkey wants part in Raqa recapture

Israel begins evacuating West Bank settler homes

Egypt lawmaker says expulsion warning to opposition

Fateh al-Sham Front head says Syria opposition leaders must 'step aside'

UN Security Council to vote Tuesday on Syria sanctions

Saudi Arabia is Changing

Libya PM to visit Moscow seeking better ties