U.S. Water News Online
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- A shortage of safe drinking water in
Iraq is threatening to increase diarrhea, a leading killer of
children in the country, the United Nations said.
Violence makes it difficult to protect Iraqi water officials and
repair pipes damaged by sabotage. But U.N. officials partly blamed
inadequate funding, both for Iraqi water systems and the world body's
A lack of money forced UNICEF to halt its water tanker service
this month that delivered clean water to tens of thousands of people
in Baghdad, a U.N. statement said.
The majority of Iraqi families rely on municipal systems that pipe
water into their homes, but many mains are damaged and infested with
dangerous waterborne diseases that can cause diarrhea, the
second-highest cause of child illness and death in Iraq.
Claire Hajaj, a UNICEF official based in Jordan, said UNICEF's
program to assist Iraq with water, sanitation and hygiene is short
$30 million because the agency had assumed Iraqis would not need such
assistance by now. Some $2 million would be needed to provide water
tanker deliveries for the rest of the year.
"We are still needed because Iraq has not been able to meet the
needs of all its people with respect to water," she told The
The Iraqi government has acknowledged local water systems will not
be able to meet the country's needs for at least 18 more months, the
U.N. statement said.
"Investment is not yet at the level where it should be," Hajaj
said, adding that the Ministry for Municipalities and Public Works
needed to spend much more.
An official in Iraq's public works ministry defended its funding
level, saying the government had promised to provide $650 million for
improving water systems. The official spoke on condition of anonymity
because he did not want to be seen disagreeing with the U.N.
In the U.N. statement, Roger Wright, the UNICEF representative for
Iraq, said diarrhea cases have been increasing, calling that a
troubling development because the "diarrhea season" doesn't usually
start until June. Hajaj said she could not provide precise figures.
UNICEF said it is stockpiling millions of sachets of oral
rehydration salts to prepare for possible diarrhea outbreaks, and the
World Health Organization is helping Iraq's government step up
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