Component 4: Pilot Implementation
The provision of drinking water and sanitation, and rehabilitation of the Marshland conditions are the key priority actions to facilitate the re-establishment of livelihoods of the Marshland residents. Given the environmental, socio-cultural, and economic conditions of the area, options for such priority actions need to be environmentally sound and locally acceptable. For instance, the high salt contents in the soil have made the reflooded water in some areas to be highly brackish, rendering the water unsuitable for conventional water treatment technologies and for drinking.
The project has identified technology options for drinking water, sanitation, and marshland management that are considered to be environmentally sound i.e. environmentally sound technologies (ESTs), and have implemented them on a pilot basis. Six communities for pilot implementation have been selected among the eighteen candidates proposed by the Iraqi ministries and Marsh Arab Forum. The selection has been based on technical criteria, geographical distribution and finally with consensus among the Iraqi stakeholders in a Technical Meeting on Pilot Implementation held in Amman, Jordan in February 2005.
Drinking water provision
Pilot projects on drinking water provision have been implemented in six communities, namely Al-Kirmashiya, Badir Al-Rumaidh, Al-Masahab, Al-Jeweber, Al-Hadam and Al-Sewelmat in Thi-Qar, Missan and Basrah governorates. They are shown in the map. The low-pressure reverse osmosis technology has been selected as an appropriate EST, and installed as packaged treatment units in five communities for purifying water. In addition, an existing compact unit using the conventional sedimentation-filtration technology has been rehabilitated and used in the sixth community for water treatment. Residents in these six communities now receive water from common water taps installed along the roads at regular intervals. Completed facilities have the capacity to serve up to 22,000 residents. Training of operators, who have been selected from the community, has been completed. Support for operation and maintenance has been provided for the period from April 2006 to April 2007. The transfer of ownership and management of the facilities to the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works (MMPW) and the Water Directorates in the respective governorates have been completed in June 2007. The drinking water facilities are now under full ownership and management of the Iraqi institutions.
A demonstration system for sanitation has been implemented to serve a small community in Al-Chibayish in the Thi-Qar Governorate. The facility implements an EST called "constructed wetlands" and serves approximately 170 inhabitants who faced potential health hazards from untreated wastewater discharged into a nearby canal. The facility has been completed in late December 2006. The Project received understanding and support of the community for implementation of this system in Al-Chibayish.
Wetland restoration and management
The pilot project for the wetland restoration and management has been carried out through an agreement with the Centre for Restoration of the Iraqi Marshlands (CRIM) of the Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR). Among the four sites selected for initial assessment, Badir Al-Rumaidh and Al-Jeweber have been selected for detailed assessment and design. CRIM is currently finalizing the fieldwork, including civil works to restore water flow and dykes, and replanting with Phragmites Australis.
Water Quality / Biodiversity
The monitoring programme of water quality and biodiversity has been carried out in the six pilot sites during 2005 to collect and analyze baseline data for environmental conditions in the communities selected for the implementation of drinking water provision and to protect the health of marshland residents who have returned to these villages. The work has been carried-out through an agreement with the Ministry of Environment, and the results of monitoring have been released in April 2007.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The monitoring and evaluation of pilot projects on drinking water provision has been carried out during February 2006 to August 2006 by a third party. Results of the monitoring were positive: the Final Report concluded that the project, which has been implemented successfully under very difficult circumstances, has had "a tremendous impact in confidence building within the communities." The project was also found to have contributed significantly to reestablish the livelihoods of the local population.
The monitoring and evaluation of pilot projects for sanitation and wetland restoration is in progress, and expected to be completed by September 2007.