Friday, 29 January 2021 12:38

Joint Press Release: Launch of UN-Habitat and FAO projects

Basra, 27 January, 2021 – Under the Patronage of H.E. Minister of Agriculture Muhammad Karim Jasim AlKhafaji and the presence of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN Habitat) officially launched two projects funded by the European Union in Iraq as part of the EU Action Document for “Support to Governance and Sustainable Job creation in Iraq”. The event brought together representatives of the Government, the European Union, as well as representatives of the diplomatic community and the UN system.

In her opening remarks at the press conference in Basra, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Ms. Irena Vojáčková- Sollorano, said: “We are grateful for the partnership with the European Union and local communities. Their combined support enables the south of Iraq to work towards sustainable development and support to disadvantaged communities,” adding “This is of particular importance considering the economic difficulties brought on by the pandemic and the climate crisis".

FAO project under the title “Restoration and strengthening the resilience of agri-food systems in Southern Iraq” was launched during the event. Commenting on the agreement signed with the EU today, Dr. Salah ElHajj Hassan, FAO Representative in Iraq said “This project is an important milestone towards the achievement of the FAO mission of reconstructing and rehabilitating the rural sector in Iraq. The needs in South Iraq are immense, and FAO recognizes that responses to food and nutrition security and income challenges, resulting from climate change and years of poverty and conflicts, require long term interventions and greater coordination. Therefore, FAO is thankful to the EU for its financial support and the opportunity this provides to partner with the Government of Iraq and other stakeholders to improve development and resilience building of rural communities in South Iraq.”

Dr. AlKhafaji, Minister of Agriculture stressed on the importance of this assistance that targets sustainable development of the agriculture sector. He also expressed the Ministry’s readiness to collaborate with FAO and the EU to restore food production and water system, and revitalize rural communities in South of Iraq. In their keynote address, the Governors of Basra, Missan and Thi Qar also emphasized the importance of such initiative as a valuable step in investing in the capabilities of the agriculture sector, pointing out that the potential of this project can leave a positive mark in the Iraqi society in general and advance economic reality in the South in particular.

The significance of this project stems from the fact that it targets poor smallholder farm families and unemployed landless rural households; in addition to private sector value chain actors of selected agri-food commodities in rural and peri-urban areas of Basra, Missan and Thi-Qar Governorates.

The UN-Habitat project titled “Increasing Access to Employment Opportunities for Vulnerable Urban Population in Basra City in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis” was launched today as well. This project will provide support for vulnerable populations in underserviced neighbourhoods in Basra City which aim to increase access to employment opportunities in basic services and waste management sectors for unemployed youth, women and vulnerable urban population. This project received generous contribution of EUR 10 million from the European Union.

Mr. Hayder Al-Mayali, Director General of Housing Directorate, Ministry of Construction, Housing, Municipalities and Public Works, stated that this new project will address many of the serious challenges faced by people in Basra, and that the Ministry will continue to guide and support the Governorates to provide services and build trust among people in Iraq.

H.E. Mr. Martin Huth, the European Union Ambassador to Iraq, highlighted that the European Union has been supporting the Government of Iraq to achieve more inclusive urban development and to provide better services for people in Iraq, and is now engaging more strongly in the south and Basra in particular. His Excellency also emphasized the important role of the central and local government in Iraq to ensure urban growth and sustainable development.

Mr. Mohammed Tahir Al-Tamimi, Deputy Governor of Basra, spoke about the current challenges in Basra including increasing numbers of informal settlements and lack of basic infrastructure and services, and expressed his hope that this project will help the Governorate tackle these challenges.

Ms. Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General/Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, reiterated that inclusive and sustainable development in Basra and wider Iraq cannot be achieved without addressing the basic needs and aspirations for a more dignified life of millions of poor people living in informal settlements and underserviced neighbourhoods without access to basic services and employment opportunities.

Mr. Wael Al-Ashhab, Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, explained that this new project will build on UN-Habitat’s substantive experience and expertise working in Basra and on urban issues, aiming to serve vulnerable urban population in Basra who are suffering due to their unsanitary living conditions, makeshift shelter, vulnerable livelihoods and dependency on daily wages.

For further information, please contact:
UN-Habitat: Aryan Star Muheddin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 0751 103 9494
FAO: Mowaffaq AlRefai, Mowaffaq, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 0780 162 7585

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