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Phase II-A: February 2006 - March 2008

Project Summary

The UNEP Iraqi Marshlands project has received support from the Government of Italy to address the recognized need to continue with basic data analysis, information sharing, and capacity building towards sustainable management of the Iraqi Marshlands. The Italian-supported project phase, called Phase II-A, supports activities that serve as building blocks to enable the Iraqi institutions to develop and implement a coordinated marshland management master plan.

Phase I has established the Marshland Information Network (MIN) platform for data collection and analysis, with necessary hardware and training for the key Iraqi institutions to use and manage the system. Phase II-A supports the expansion of this network, by increasing the number of institutions with access, supporting additional data collection and analysis that are deemed necessary for further interventions by UNEP and other institutions, and providing training needed to utilize the system inside and outside Iraq.

This project phase consists of five activities as described below.


Activity 1: Organize kick-off and coordination meeting (7 April 2006, Paris, France)

The project kick-off and coordination meeting was held on 7 April 2006 to introduce the objectives of the Italian-supported phase of the UNEP Iraqi Marshlands project. The participants included the Iraqi delegation from the Ministry of Environment (MOE), the Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR), and the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works (MMPW), the Italian delegation, as well as representatives from the US Agency for International Development, Nature Iraq, and the Government of Japan. The meeting served as a platform for discussing the data gaps that need to be addressed to support suitable environmental management of the Iraqi Marshlands.

Activity 2: Support data collection and assessments, to be shared on the Marshland Information Network (MIN) platform, and convert existing data and results to be shared on the MIN

The project has supported data collection and assessments and efforts to convert existing data and results that are relevant for marshland management by the Iraqi partner institutions as follows:

  • MOE: water quality and biodiversity data
  • MOWR: hydraulic and hydrological data
  • MMPW: land use, demographic, other related data

UNEP and each ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding to carry out the data analysis work, and to manage the MIN sites with additional data. The ministries have uploaded numerous reports and analyses, which were previously unavailable for review. For example, MOWR has made available various reports on project field surveys, such as historical changes using remote sensing, report of Al-Huwaizeh marsh restoration, and updates on the reflooding of the marshes.

Demographic/Socio-economic Survey and Solid Waste Survey

The project has also commissioned two surveys at the community level: a survey to collect data on demographic and socioeconomic conditions, and a solid waste management survey. The surveys were carried out by the University of Thi-Qar with UNEP guidance and advice from MMPW. They have been designed to fill the gaps in data availability for community-level living conditions and waste management practices.

1 - Survey on Demographic, Social and Economic Conditions of Marshlands in the South of Iraq

2 - Survey on Solid Waste Management in the Southern Governorates of Iraq

Activity 3: Carry out overall data analysis and management to ensure compatibility and comparability

The project has conducted an evaluation of data sharing tools and methodologies that have been utilized by various multilateral and bilateral initiatives for marshland management. The aim of this evaluation has been to understand the systems that are in use, and to evaluate their compatibility and comparability. In particular, the EST Information System, developed by UNEP and used for the MIN, Claromentis, which is a system used by US initiatives, the Internet file sharing system (FTP), and the CD/DVD formats have been evaluated. The analyses formulated recommendations on how to share data, based on a three-tier data system.

The project is also currently exploring the feasibility of integrating the MIN platform with the web-based GIS system, which is being established at the Iraqi Ministries with bilateral support from the Government of Italy. This analysis is expected to be finalized by September 2007.

Activity4: Expand MIN to establish nodes at key Iraqi institutions

The project has been establishing additional MIN nodes at key Iraqi institutions. The MIN server at MMPW is being established, with the hardware and software set-up and the provision of training for the MMPW personnel. This work is being undertaken in cooperation with Nature Iraq. In addition, Thi-Qar University has been provided with assistance for the MIN node establishment, to utilize the system for the data and analysis on the surveys conducted under Activity 2.

Activity 5: Organize 2 MIN workshops to train Iraqi partners on setting up the server, MIN operations, and data management

Under this activity component, two technical workshops have been organized. The first workshop was organized to provide training on how to use and manage the MIN system, and the second workshop was an advanced training and technical meeting.

Training Course on Marshlands Information Network (MIN) (25-26 April 2006, Manama, Bahrain)

An intensive two-day training course on ESTIS and the Marshlands Information Network (MIN) was organized on 25-26 April 2006 in Manama, Bahrain. The goal of this training was to train participants on how to use the MIN system, where the participants were taught to create and manage MIN sites on the Internet, share and serve for information across multiple MIN websites, and to appreciate the importance of knowledge management. By the end of the workshop, each organization represented had created a new website on the MIN, or had added new information on the existing MIN site.

Advanced Marshlands Information Network (MIN) Training and Technical Meeting: Data gaps addressed to support suitable environmental management of the Iraqi Marshlands (27-30 June 2006, Shiga, Japan)

The advanced MIN training and technical meeting was held to train officials within the Iraqi ministries on how to set-up and operate the MIN servers, to assist the ministries to effectively analyze, present, and share available data on the MIN, and to develop a strategy for initial data collection efforts on basic demographic and socio-economic data, and sold waste management in the Marshlands. The meeting directly addressed recommendations and action items presented and agreed by participants at the Paris kick-off meeting, such as the need for data collection efforts. The meeting was attended by technical experts from the Ministries of Environment, Water Resources, and Municipalities and Public Works.

Activity 6: Support in-country secondary MIN training

In-country secondary MIN training was organized to provide training to a larger number of personnel on MIN usage and management. The secondary training was organized by the Ministry of Environment, and was conducted by personnel who have undergone MIN management training. Arabic and English MIN training manuals, prepared by UNEP, were provided and utilized.

Activity 7: Organize an evaluation meeting: Support for Environmental Management of Iraqi Marshlands (Phase II-A) (20 April 2007, Paris, France)

The Evaluation Meeting was held to assess gaps filled by Phase II-A and other ongoing initiatives, and to identify additional gaps to be prioritized. The meeting was attended by high-level Iraqi officials and representatives from the Government of Italy. The project activities carried out thus far were presented, and positively evaluated by the participants. The meeting recommendations included the continuation of capacity building to utilize the information and data management systems, support of initiatives with tangible positive impacts on the social conditions, and coordination and cooperation among donors and Iraqi institutions.