1 April 2009

Re-issued as received

Report Shows "Meaningful" Impact of UN Projects in Iraq

VIENNA, 1 April (UN Information Service) - The United Nations welcomed an independent report released last week, which shows UN reconstruction projects in Iraq have made a "real and meaningful impact" to the country's recovery.

David Shearer, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Iraq, said: "I am very pleased and reassured by these results. They show that the Iraqi people have benefited from our efforts and donor funds have been well invested, despite a very dangerous operating environment for our staff." More than 85 UN and NGO workers have been killed in Iraq since 2003.

The Stocktaking Review was initiated by several international donors and carried out by the Norwegian aid effectiveness firm Scanteam. It assessed a selection of UN projects funded through the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), the largest Multi-Donor Trust Fund the UN operates. The IRFFI has channelled $1.3 billion from 25 contributing nations into UN agency Iraq-wide projects since 2004. It closes to new contributions on 30 June 2009. The European Commission, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada and Spain are its largest donors.

The report found that 80 per cent of UN projects surveyed in the field were "acceptable" or "satisfactory" - the highest grade - with security costs at just 2 per cent of overall project costs. Surveyors in the field who visited project sites inside Iraq also found no evidence of systematic corruption.

"The UN has been able to compensate for a poor security situation through our close working relationship with Government, civil society and local partners," Shearer said. "We rely on a large team of more than 400 national staff in governorates and local offices. This team has been present in Iraq throughout the worst periods of conflict adopting a low-profile approach to operations, but still managing to carry out their work."

The report also identified some weaknesses in the way UN agency projects are monitored and reported. Shearer acknowledged room for improvement and said the UN agencies had already taken steps to strengthen these areas of operations. The projects carried out by UN agencies support essential services such as schools, hospitals and water, stimulate economic reform and job creation, and strengthen governance of institutions. A number also aim to improve human rights and provide protection for vulnerable groups, including women, children, displaced families and returnees.

Shearer said Iraq's development prospects had recently improved due to better security, but there were still some difficult times ahead. A 32 per cent budget deficit is projected this year due to falling oil prices, with capital investment half of 2008. The UN will be expanding its assistance and presence inside Iraq in 2009, but shifting to support the Government with more technical expertise. Key areas where Iraq still needs assistance include private sector development to create new jobs and reform of public institutions to deliver better services such as education and health.

"The international community deserves thanks for its generous support to Iraq over the past five years, and I hope the same level of commitment can be maintained during this critical transition period," Shearer said. "A coordinated development effort is more vital now than ever to consolidate Iraq's positive move towards recovery."

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For more information, please contact:

Juliette Touma
Public Information Officer,
Office of the Resident Coordinator/ Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
Telephone: (+962-6) 550 4738
Mobile: (+962-77) 67 29 707
Email: toumaj@un.org