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Iraq’s Ministry of Water Resources celebrates establishment of a department dedicated to safe management of hydraulic infrastructure thanks to the support of Italy and UNIDO

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Funded by the Government of Italy through the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has been working together with the Ministry of Water Resources of Iraq to build the Ministry’s capacity to safely manage its national hydraulic infrastructure. H.E. Aoun Diab Abdullah, Minister of Water Resources, and Ali Thamer, Director General of the State Commission of Dams and Reservoirs (SCODAR) welcomed H.E. Mr. Maurizio Greganti, Italy’s Ambassador to Iraq, to celebrate the establishment of the National Dam Safety Department (NDSD) in Baghdad.

During the welcoming remarks, the Minister noted the importance of the Department in the work of SCODAR in particular, and for the water resources system in general, in light of what Iraq suffers from major water challenges. He further mentioned “The various training programs implemented during this project by UNIDO have enhanced the capabilities of employees at dams and barrages in the field of monitoring the work of hydraulic infrastructure and ensuring their safe operation”.

As part of a years-long commitment by Italy to sustain the water sector in Iraq and of a broader UNIDO intervention, the NDSD has been established to oversee Iraq’s national hydraulic infrastructure. In particular, the NDSD will be central to dam safety and management of water resources, to monitor and to supervise existing national hydraulic infrastructure, to identify and advocate for appropriately funded operation and maintenance of existing facilities, and to advise on future national hydraulic infrastructure investments in Iraq. The Department seeks to leverage the significant expertise of Italy with Iraq’s largest dam, the Mosul Dam, to train staff and deliver technical assistance at other hydraulic infrastructure around the country.

The overall project, funded by the Government of Italy through the Italian Development Cooperation Agency is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Water Resources in the form of skills training, dam safety system advisory and technology transfer to establish a robust dam safety programme.

In his comments Ambassador Greganti praised the work of the Italian company Trevi for its work on rehabilitating the Mosul Dam. He said, “The work done by Trevi on the Mosul Dam was an outstanding success – one of the greatest repair intervention on dams ever realized. It was only natural to build upon the skills transferred back then to create a dedicated team at the Ministry that could supervise, operate and advise on water reservoirs in the Country. If the hydraulic system is a critical infrastructure in every Country, all the more so for Iraq. A proper management of dams and reservoirs will have a huge impact on the livelihood of many Iraqis – and Italy is proud to have contributed.”

Iraq’s extensive reservoir network is central to the country’s socio-economic development strategy. The state’s ability to manage water resources for consumption, irrigation and energy production is critical to Iraq’s stability and its sustainable development. In particular, hydropower is and will continue to play a key role in Iraq’s energy mix as the impacts of climate change are projected to increase.

SCODAR’s Director General Ali Thamer added that ”The project is fully in line with the Ministry’s strategy for water and land resources. It is also in line with the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Plan, and it contributed positively and in support of the Ministry and SCODAR orientation towards gender equality, as the project sought to increase the participation of female technical staff in the SCODAR in training related to the project”.

The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation stated, “We are proud of a project that is both valuable and durable for its impact on the human capital and the natural resources of Iraq. Thanks to the intervention on the infrastructure, from now on the capacity of water storage in Mosul Dam is significantly increased and through the training provided, the staff will be able, in the long term, to keep the structure safe and properly manage the water resources of a country that is facing the challenges that climate change is imposing globally and especially in this region.”