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Focus on the Middle East

April 2012

Helping Iraq to Rebuild Itself

PhotoRebuilding vital infrastructure

Iraq is an ancient land which has been twice blessed by nature.

As the cradle of earliest civilization, the kingdom known as Mesopotamia fed by the fertile Tigris and Euphrates rivers gave birth to modern agriculture.

In the 20th century, the country now known as Iraq found itself sitting on reputedly the world's third largest reserves of oil.

Conflict and wars, however, often devastated the region and since the last Iraq war ended in 2003 the country has been trying to put itself back together again.

Japan committed $US5 billion, second only to the United States, to helping the country reconstruct those two important pillars.

JICA opened an office in the capital, Baghdad, in 2011 to oversee those oil and agricultural projects but also other programs to improve Iraq's electricity, water supply and sewerage systems, medical care and education, revitalize the private sector, develop stronger administrative foundations and improve governance and human resource potential.

The country's oil industry which accounted for 90% of national revenue was badly crippled during the last conflict.

PhotoHelping rehabilitate Iraq's agricultural sector

The largest single project involving a yen loan of US$432million has helped to repair or install new pipelines–one of them 45 kilometers long-- connecting inland oil storage and shipping facilities to offshore terminals at Al Faw in the south of the country to improve the flow of oil exports. Oil refining capacity at the nearby city of Basrah was also strengthened.

A $US272 million loan helped to rehabilitate the nearby damaged port of Umm Qasr, the gateway to maritime transportation in Iraq, by financing extensive channel dredging–by the end of 2011 5.2 million cubic meters of earth had been removed–the salvage of some of the estimated 200 sunken vessels in the channel–and the provision of new dockside cranes, tugboats and the and the installation of new port facilities.

To diversify Iraq's economy and rehabilitate the country's agriculture sector–the second largest after the oil industry–JICA has helped renovate a key fertilizer plant, dispatched experts to the country while at the same time training more than 800 specialists, particularly in water management and irrigation, and undertook projects in the northern Kurdish autonomous region to improve both wheat and horticulture production.

Major water supply and sewerage projects were undertaken in Basrah, Baghdad, midwestern Iraq and the Kurdistan region while there were major electricity reconstruction projects in Kurdistan and mid and southern Iraq,a US$331 million thermal power plant rehabilitation at Al Mussaib near Baghdad and two new power plants in Kurdistan and western Iraq.

Four recently announced projects include a US$131 million program to improve communication network in major cities, a US$ 115 million loan for construction of a hospital and two projects to improve the operational efficiency of a major refinery.

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