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Ambassador Bremer and Iraq’s Minister of Water Resources Announce Major Irrigation project as Ministry Takes Final Step Toward Sovereignty

Program will employ 100,000 Iraqis and clear 20,000km of Iraq’s waterways for irrigation

Monday, May 10 -- Today Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Administrator Ambassador L. Paul Bremer congratulated the Iraqi Minister of Water Resources, Dr. Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid, for his Ministry’s important advance on the road to sovereignty. Today’s transfer is part of the return of control over Iraq’s ministries to the Iraqi people.

“Today we pass a milestone on the path to full Iraqi sovereignty. Today the Ministry of Water Resources moves to full autonomy. In just 52 days full sovereignty will rest in Iraqi hands,” stated Ambassador Bremer. “I congratulate you, Mr. Minister, and I congratulate all your employees all over Iraq as you continue one of civilization’s oldest and most noble duties.”

The significance of this transition and the mission of the Ministry were underscored with the announcement of an aggressive program to clear up to 20,000km of Iraq’s waterways to improve water flow and irrigation. The program has a budget of 35 million dollars and will employ approximately 100,000 of Iraq’s unskilled workers.

A similar program was completed last fall with 17000km of Iraq’s waterways successfully cleared. Funding for the new program is in the process of being distributed to governate banks and the Ministry has developed a plan to execute the program with the cooperation of Iraq’s Directors General. The project is expected to begin on Friday, May 14.

In addition to the ambitious irrigation program announced today, the Ministry of Water Resources has begun an aggressive program to modernize the management of their water system utilizing the latest technology available. The Coalition will continue to work with their Iraqi partners to bring about a fundamental change in how their government operates and serves its people.

In his speech today the Minister said, “We accept the responsibility of this institution with pride and respect because we believe in the new Iraq, a democratic Iraq, a free Iraq, an Iraq against terrorism, an Iraq active as a member of the international community which can contribute to the benefit of mankind.”
The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources was one of the first ministries along with those of health, education and public works announced by Ambassador Bremer last month as having developed short and long-term strategic plans, a budget and an administrative reorganization. Fundamental management systems have been put in place and a system of checks and balances has been implemented to deter and root out corruption.

Under the leadership of Dr. Latif Rashid and Dr. Theriot, the Ministry of Water Resources has made important progress in the rebuilding of Iraq’s water resources system with significant results:

• Increased Iraq’s water resources budget by US$149 million. Under Saddam in 2002, the national irrigation program (now called water resources) was seriously neglected with an estimated budget of less than US$1 million; the budget for 2004 is US$150 million,

• The MoWR has begun an aggressive program to modernize the management of their water system with the latest technology. A comprehensive model of the entire system is being developed utilizing the same state-of-art software that is utilized within the United States and many other modern countries throughout the world,

• Iraqi reservoirs can now be operated more effectively now that a weekly exchange of data from Turkey has been established with support from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and US Foreign Service officers, providing reliable information on the status of the Turkish reservoirs.

Additionally, in an astonishing turnaround the Mesopotamian marshes have already benefited greatly since the liberation, presenting new signs of hope for renewal and restoration:

  • Large areas (30-40%) of the original extent of the marsh have been inundated since liberation in April 2003,
  • Thousands of internally and externally displaced Marsh Arabs have come back to the restored marshes to resume their indigenous way of life,
  • Economic activities have increased in the marshes including fishing, mat weaving, water buffalo herding and agriculture,
  • Environmental conditions have improved including the return of migratory birds, moderated temperatures and improved air quality.


The Coalition will continue to provide technical assistance as requested by the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources and will oversee the $775 million in assistance in the special supplemental appropriation requested by U.S. President George W. Bush.

If you have any questions, please email Joe Pally at
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