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BENEFITS - Expected Project Benefits and Beneficiaries




With Phase I and Phase II underway and Phase III to be commenced in 2007, the following benefits of the UNEP Iraqi Marshlands Project can be identified:

  • ESTs (Environmental Sound Technologies) on drinking water provision, sanitation provision and wetland restoration are being introduced and implemented, making use of Iraqi expertise.
    • Access to safe drinking water provision has been made available for the benefit of up to 22,000 people in six pilot communities (Al-Kirmashiya, Badir Al-Rumaidh, Al-Masahab, Al-Jeweber, Al-Hadam, and Al-Sewelmat). Water treatment facilities with a total capacity of 750 cubic meters per day and water distribution facilities consisting of 23 kilometers of water distribution pipes and 127 common distribution taps had been newly installed.
    • Some displaced residents are returning to pilot site areas, partly because drinking water has been made available through this project. As stability returns, possibilities for rebuilding life in the Marshes are increasing.
    • A sanitation system pilot project has been implemented in the community of Al-Chibayish. The EST, constructed wetlands, aims to serve approximately 170 inhabitants, who face health hazards from discharges of untreated wastewater to a nearby canal.
    • Wetland rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives are being implemented in cooperation with the Centre for the Restoration of Iraqi Marshlands (CRIM) of the Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR).
    • Operation and management experience by the Iraqi staff on the water provision facilities has been accumulated for more than a year.
  • Input is being provided for a long-term management plan to benefit people and ecosystems in Southern Iraq. This input includes:
    • Experience with suitable management options
    • Recognition of local communities as stakeholders
    • Assessment of policy and institution needs
    • Identification of (and engagement with) evolving and emerging Iraqi institutions associated with marshlands management
    • Provision of analyzed data, gathered through water quality testing, satellite image analysis, and remote sensing
  • The capacity and knowledge of Iraqi decision-makers, technical experts, and community members are being enhanced. Policy and institutional elements, technical knowledge, community engagement, and analytical methods are among the aspects being addressed.
  • Employment opportunities related to assessment, pilot applications, awareness raising, and monitoring are being developed at professional and community levels.
  • Coordination of donor-supported activities and domestically-led activities inside the Marshlands is being facilitated to foster cooperation while minimizing duplication.
  • The project has generated and shared extensive data (water quality, satellite image analysis, and remote sensing) and experience on suitable options (what options work where, and how) and policy and institutional needs assessments, which serve as input for long-term management plan formulation to benefit the people of Southern Iraq and ecosystem.


The main beneficiaries of the Marshlands Restoration project include:

  • Marshland communities: Marshland communities have the current total population of 85,000 to 100,000, according to the 2004 census figure (US AID, 2004). With the return of displaced persons, the total population could eventually reach up to half million people. Of these, the communities that participate in the pilot implementation of water, wastewater, and marshland management have gained access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and water quality management practices. In addition, the pilot implementations have identified options and management practices that are suitable for other communities. Community leaders have been recognized as stakeholders and their inputs and views have been solicited for pilot placements, community level training and initiative support, and the longer-term planning of management plan. The communities have also been an integral part of sustaining the pilot options, and have been provided with support for local initiatives. On-the-job training for local implementation and maintenance teams has also been provided.
  • Iraqi policy makers: The Iraq's Ministry of Environment has hosted the Project Implementation Unit (PIU), and has received the institutional and capacity support to start addressing the marshland issues in a more integrated manner. Policy makers from line ministries and governorates of southern Iraq have received approximately 120 policy-oriented training placements, as well as study tour opportunities on policy-related aspects of marshland management. In addition, support has been provided to carry out in-country training by trained professionals, multiplying the effects of capacity building. Equipment and services for the Marshland Information Network nodes within the PIU and the southern Governorates have been provided, with training. Equipment for information management, remote sensing, and software have also been provided with necessary training for use and maintenance.
  • Iraqi technical experts: Technical experts from line ministries, southern governorates, and from relevant departments of local universities (namely University of Basrah and University of Thi-Qar) have received approximately 180 placements for technical training, as well as study tour opportunities to evaluate EST implementation. Similar to policy-related training, support has been provided to carry out in-country training by trained professionals, multiplying the effects of capacity building. Upon completion of training, they were expected to utilize their acquired skills in various tasks needed for the EST implementation within this project. Specific tasks, such as pilot site identification and maintenance, have been carried out with local contracts and consultants, through the active involvement of the PIU with UNEP support. The project has thus increased the demand for trained Iraqi experts.
  • Residents of Southern Iraq: The 2003 UN assessment found that the Marsh Arabs did not want to be treated separately from surrounding communities, to prevent artificial divides and local conflicts, which could hinder their integration into wider Iraqi society. As such, assistance to the Marsh Arabs and restoration efforts has been integrated within a wider regional development framework for the reconstruction of southern Iraq, which benefits approximately 2.5 million residents of the three Governorates (Missan, Basrah, Thi Qar) in which the Iraqi Marshlands are located, through relevant institutions in these Governorates. Specifically, training opportunities for governorate officials have been provided, particularly for policy-relevant subjects and assessment procedures. Equipment and training necessary for accessing the Marshland Information Network has also been made available at the Governorate level.

Stakeholders in water management at the national, regional, and international levels have also benefited from this project, as the project results, particularly data, hands-on experience, and recommendations on wider applications of suitable options, has contributed to the overall improvement of integrated water resource management capacity. The satellite image analysis and water quality data has been made available and accessible to the public, thereby providing valuable information that was not available for analysis and decision-making before the project began. Finally, the promotion of sustainable marshland management practices has provided benefits of environmental protection and water management, with positive benefits for human health and sustainable livelihood of the Iraqi population.

Upon completion of this project, further replication and wider implementation of suitable options will be envisaged as requested by the national partners, by promoting the incorporation of project results as recommendations master plan formulation.

Information compiled by UNEP has been placed in the public domain and made readily available to all national and international stakeholders. Stakeholder participation in management, planning and implementation has been facilitated by supporting community-based activities, involving local governments and other beneficiaries at each stage of project implementation, and by promoting dialogue and information sharing with the Marshland Information Network.