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Component 2: Data Collection and Baseline Analysis

Baseline data are necessary to determine the environmental conditions of the marshlands, as well as patterns of re-flooding, community locations and changes in size, water quality and availability for residents, and biodiversity. This project component has focused on the collection of necessary data to establish the baseline conditions of the Iraqi Marshlands, and to build a mechanism to enable the sharing and management of such data.

Data and Analysis
Under this project component, UNEP has collected and analyzed available information to help identify areas where targeted action may be warranted. Such available information include results of various bilateral initiatives, such as hydrological assessments, models, and scenarios of re-flooding, as well as results of biodiversity assessments that analyzed geographical distributions of plant and animal species, and threatened areas. The project has also conducted basic assessments of targeted areas and established water quality and biodiversity monitoring protocol. To determine the extent of water contamination at various communities and locales, the project has carried out water quality and biodiversity sampling and analysis. The collected data have been used to determine suitable options and locations for the pilot projects for water and sanitation provision and marshland management, as described in more detail under component 4.

To facilitate data sharing and management, UNEP has established the web-based Marshland Information Network (MIN), which provides stakeholders with a forum to share information. The MIN serves as a common point of access to tools for technical management and assessments, and facilitates identification of solutions and the development of common strategies and partnerships among stakeholders. The project has also supported an initiative to monitor and verify the status of reflooding and vegetation change. To enable Iraqi participation and management, the project has provided capacity building opportunities and extensively utilized Iraqi expertise in the data collection, assessment, and management.

Technical Meeting on Data Collection and Analysis (21-22 February 2005, Amman, Jordan)

The project has organized a technical meeting on data collection and analysis on water quality in February 2005, and explored mechanisms of cooperation and data sharing with all the stakeholders as a precursor to water quality and biodiversity assessments in the Iraqi Marshlands.

Water Quality Monitoring

The project has conducted a water quality and biodiversity assessment in six selected sites in the marshlands during 2005. The work was carried out with the Ministry of Environment. Pilot projects for drinking water provision were also carried out at the same sites.

Provision of Water Sampling Equipment

Three sets of portable water quality equipment have been procured by the project and provided to the Ministry of Environment in 2005 to facilitate surveys in the marshlands for establishment of baseline data.

Marshland Information Network (MIN)

The MIN establishment addresses the barrier of limited availability and sharing of environmental and socioeconomic information regarding the Marshlands. UNEP’s discussions with relevant Iraqi ministries have also revealed the general lack of communication and information sharing among stakeholders. The system uses the EST Information System (ESTIS) framework, developed by UNEP IETC (UNEP IETC, 2003). ESTIS is one of the only information systems in the world with multi-language compatibility, and is already utilized by various developing country agencies and organizations.

MIN node establishment

To facilitate active engagement of local stakeholders and data sharing/management, MIN server equipment has been provided and installed in five locations, four in the Ministry of Environment offices in Baghdad, Basrah, Missan and Thi-Qar and one in the Centre for Restoration of Iraqi Marshlands (CRIM) of the Ministry of Water Resources.

Iraqi Marshlands Observation System (IMOS)

The project has developed the Iraqi Marshlands Observation System (IMOS) to monitor reflooding and changes in vegetation cover of the marshland area, utilizing remote sensing and satellite monitoring, coupled with groundtruthing work. Land cover data and vegetation map for the period starting from January 2003 have been made available for downloading in the IMOS website. Iraqi personnel trained during this project have maintained the system.