Iraq Reconstruction Plan
Shelter and Urban Development
This Draft is currently under review by the relevant Iraqi Ministries and will be amended and
updated after the review process is completed.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary …………………………………………………. iii
Chapter 1: …………………………………………………. 1 Introduction
Chapter 2: …………………………………………………. 7 Housing Policy
2.1 Context and Challenges …………………………………………………. 7
2.2 UN-HABITAT Response …………………………………………………. 9
Chapter 3: …………………………………………………. 16 Urban Planning and
3.1 Context and Challenges …………………………………………………. 16
3.2 UN-HABITAT Response …………………………………………………. 19
Chapter 4: …………………………………………………. 25 Local Governance
4.1 Context and Challenges …………………………………………………. 25
4.2 UN-HABITAT Response …………………………………………………. 26
Chapter 5: …………………………………………………. 31 Revitalisation of
Institutions for Housing
5.1 Context and Challenges …………………………………………………. 31
5.2 UN-HABITAT Response …………………………………………………. 31
Chapter 6: …………………………………………………. 37 Institutional
Framework of UN-
Annex 1 40 Immediate Measures
The Iraq Reconstruction Plan for Shelter and Urban Development offers a preliminary strategy for improving the conditions of people living and working in the 290 urban areas of Iraq. The Plan provides information on the present status of shelter and urban development and makes recommendations for policy reform, capacity building, small-scale projects, information systems, and further assessments. Also included by way of annex, are a series of immediate projects that interested Member States and
international development co-operation agencies may consider supporting.
The Plan draws upon the seven-year experience of UN-HABITAT in Iraq and rapid assessments undertaken after the recent conflict. Under the Oil-for-Food Programme (OFFP), UN-HABITAT has implemented three separate initiatives. In Northern Iraq the agency has executed the Settlements Rehabilitation Programme (SRP), the third largest humanitarian OFFP component, providing shelter and basic services to 120,000 Internally Displaced Persons and Vulnerable Groups. The USD 600 million SRP has been implemented through Local Authorities and over 800 local contractors with the added advantage of building local capacity and generating employment to over 80,000 people. In South and Central Iraq UN-HABITAT conducted the Housing Sector Observation Programme monitoring the importation of building materials, and implemented in Baghdad the Neighbourhood Rehabilitation Project, a set of small-scale infrastructure projects applying principles of community management and partnership.
Subsequent to the adoption of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1483, UN-HABITAT together with Iraqi nationals assessed war damages nation-wide. The agency had earlier also developed a Three-year Plan for shelter and service improvements in Northern Iraq, and assessed the construction sector in Iraq.
The Iraq Reconstruction Plan reflects past experience and rapid assessment, and situates these within the context of the twin mandates of UN-HABITAT: “adequate shelter for
all” and “sustainable urban development.” The Plan also builds on the agency‟s work in post-conflict situations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and East Timor, and technical co-operation pursued by the agency for three decades in 75 countries.
The following strategy, in line with SCR 1483, supports Iraqi institutions (national and local) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). UN-HABITAT will make available expert practitioners to assist the Iraqi government and CPA in the achievement of the above objectives, under the co-ordination and in collaboration with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General, the Resident Co-ordinator, and the UN Country Team. Further support will be provided by the UN-HABITAT Representative in Iraq, a seasoned team of both international and local staff members, and expertise within UN-HABITAT headquarters.
Estimated funding for the entire programme is USD 20-30 million annually over 5 years, with sufficient de/mobilisation time built in to this period. This document offers a dynamic approach to the changing situation on the ground today. UN-HABITAT will ensure its continued updating and adaptation to the emerging needs of the Iraqi people.
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003)
The return of the United Nations to Iraq is taking place in a substantially new
environment that will have a profound impact on its operations and resource requirements.
Until 22 May 2003, the United Nations presence and activities in Iraq were placed within
the humanitarian boundaries stipulated under the Oil-for-Food Programme.
The Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003, in its paragraph 8, gives the
United Nations a wide and independent role in the reconstruction of Iraq. It requests “the
Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative for Iraq whose independent
responsibilities shall involve coordinating among United Nations and international
agencies engaged in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction activities in Iraq, and,
in coordination with the Authority, assisting the people of Iraq through:
(a) coordinating humanitarian and reconstruction assistance by United Nations agencies
and between United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations;
(b) providing the safe, orderly, and voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons;
(c) working intensively with the Authority, the people of Iraq, and others concerned to
advance efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for
representative governance; including by working together to facilitate a process
leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq;
(d) facilitating the reconstruction of key infrastructure, in cooperation with other
(e) promoting economic reconstruction and the conditions for sustainable development;
including through coordination with national and regional organizations, as
appropriate, civil society, donors, and the international financial institutions;
(f) encouraging international efforts to contribute to basic civilian administrative
(g) promoting the protection of human rights;
(h) encouraging international efforts to rebuild the capacity of the Iraqi civilian police
(i) encouraging international efforts to promote legal and judicial reform.”
UN-HABITAT is presenting a Reconstruction Plan for Shelter and Urban Development
in line with the provisions of Security Council Resolution 1483 and on the basis of its
experience, needs assessment, and ongoing consultations in Iraq. This Reconstruction
Plan is designed to cover the period 2004 – 2008 and beyond, as a follow-up to the
Immediate Measures Action Plan annexed to this document.
1.2 UN-HABITAT’s experience in Iraq
Since 1997, UN-HABITAT has built extensive and countrywide experience in Iraq and is
well placed to help the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Governing Council and Ministries cope
with the immediate and longer-term needs in urban development and housing.
Under the Oil for Food Programme UN-HABITAT has implemented two major
programmes in Iraq, namely the:
? Settlements Rehabilitation Programme in the northern Iraqi Governorates, and the ? Housing Sector Observation Programme in the centre and south of the country.
As of mid-2003, the Settlements Rehabilitation Programme has delivered some 22,000
housing units, 740 primary and secondary schools, 130 health centres, 715 km of water
and sewage systems, 2,700 km of access and internal roads for new settlements, and 115
facilities to support community activities and income generation. The Programme
targeted a total caseload of over 800,000 Internally Displaced Persons and Vulnerable
Groups in northern Iraq. SRP has directly benefited some 22,000 families and indirectly
improved the living conditions of over one million people or close to 30 per cent of the
population. It has also been instrumental in helping to stabilise the society by establishing
and capacitating a vibrant local construction industry, creating some 80,000 jobs,
introducing gender training, and building capacity at the local government level.
1At the time of the phasing out of the Programme, a priority demand for 60,000 housing
units for identified Internally Displaced Persons and Vulnerable groups will remain
The Housing Sector Observation Programme was in charge of monitoring the imports into Iraq of building materials and equipment up to the end users under the tenets of
equity, efficiency and adequacy of the Oil-for-Food Programme. Regular assessments of
the impact of imports on the housing conditions in the centre and south of Iraq were part
of the Programme and contributed to building a database on the state of the housing and
construction sectors in the country.
The Neighbourhood Rehabilitation Project in Baghdad is an ongoing activity at grassroots level, supported by UNDP and ECHO delivering smaller scale infrastructure
projects utilising UN-HABITAT‟s participatory planning and implementation
As from May 2003, this work has been complemented and expanded by emergency needs
assessments conducted by UN-HABITAT in major urban centres (Basra, Baghdad,
Kirkuk, Mosul and others) throughout Iraq, and covering housing, public buildings, water
and sanitation, and solid waste management.
21.3 UN-HABITAT as lead agency for shelter and urban development
1 Three-year Plan, UN-HABITAT Settlements Rehabilitation Programme, 2002
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, is the lead United
Nations agency for Cities and Human Settlements. The basic framework for UN-
HABITAT‟s work is laid down in the Habitat Agenda adopted by all Member States of
the United Nations in June 1996. The Habitat Agenda commits Governments to the twin
goals of „adequate shelter for all‟ and „sustainable human settlements development‟.
UN-HABITAT brings a wealth of experience and expertise to support reconstruction of
Iraq‟s cities, including:
? Seven years of local experience providing technical support to Iraq, including in the
following areas: housing, school and road construction; water supply and sanitation;
local government capacity building, etc (please see Section 1.2 above);
? Vast experience in the Arab States, with ongoing operations in Morocco, Libya,
Sudan, Somalia, and Egypt, involving a rich network of experts;
? Extensive experience in post-conflict reconstruction in Angola, Afghanistan, East
Timor, Kosovo, Mozambique, Rwanda and Somalia;
? Comprehensive and holistic approach to urban development based on decades of
experience working directly with local governments;
? Participatory tools, methods and approaches developed by global programmes in such
critical areas for reconstruction such as: security of tenure, urban management, local
governance, disaster management, urban environment, water management, informal
settlements upgrading, gender, urban safety, and urban indicators;
? Training materials on a wide variety of topics of relevance for local governments
already translated into Arabic and tested in many countries in the region;
Globally, UN-HABITAT is the focal point for Target 11 of the Millennium Development
Goals, which calls for “a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020” as its primary focus for global activities. Spearheading its
advocacy initiatives, UN-HABITAT implements two Global Campaigns
entitled ‟Adequate Shelter for All‟, and „Good Urban Governance‟ that promote the
principles inherent in the primary goals of the Habitat Agenda. Additionally, UN-
HABITAT through its ongoing programmes, implements operational activities at country
and city levels upon request from Governments, develops guidelines and tools, and
organises training workshops in all regions of the world. Finally, as the global agency
focussing on sustainable urbanisation policies, UN-HABITAT organises biennially the
World Urban Forum, where all stakeholders of the shelter and urban sector meet and
develop a collective knowledge on human settlements.
thRecently, the 19 session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT (Nairobi, 5 – 9
May 2003)) requested the organisation to devote specific attention to human settlements
needs in the reconstruction of countries affected by armed conflicts and other man-made
or natural disasters (Resolution 19/7 adopted on 9 May 2003).
1.4 The roles of cities in the national economy
2 UN-HABITAT is also leading the Shelter Sector on behalf of the UNDG/WB Needs Assessment Mission
Iraq is home to a number of pre-industrial urban centres such as Baghdad, Basra, Mosul,
and Babylon. These and other areas, all with a rich and distinguished history, supported
bazaars, and quarters for handicrafts and industries. Most of these urban areas were self-
sufficient in food while others depended on shipping and ancient caravan routes.
Iraq's society has undergone profound and rapid social change over the past decades that
had a definite urban focus. The city has historically played an important economic and
political role in the life of Middle Eastern societies, and this was certainly true in the
territory that is present-day Iraq. Trade and commerce, handicrafts and small
manufactures, and administrative and cultural activities have traditionally been central to
the economy and the society, notwithstanding the rural origin of large parts of the
Iraq‟s total population is estimated at 26 million, with close to 70 percent of the
population living in cities. It is clear that the main challenge of reconstruction will be
focused in cities. A primary objective of this reconstruction plan is to articulate a
comprehensive and holistic vision for urban reconstruction in a logical and sequenced
The growth of a few urban centres, notably Baghdad and Basra, has been quite
impressive in the last 30 years. In 1995, roughly 18 million people lived in urban areas.
Population estimates show the remarkable growth of Baghdad in particular, from just
over 500,000 in 1947 to close to 6 million at present. In northern Iraq, the picture is
different. There, a number of middle-sized towns (Dohuk, Arbil, and Sulymaniyah) have
experienced very rapid growth, triggered by the unsettled conditions that prevailed in the
region. Except for northern Iraq, where UN-HABITAT has conducted a number of
surveys, statistical details of the impact of such population shifts on the physical and
spatial character of cities and towns are generally insufficient.
Urbanisation generally is a consequence of economic growth and potentially an engine
for economic development. In Iraq, this is also associated with high population growth
rates of up to 2.7%, as well as industrialisation and expansion of the service sector. Rapid
urbanisation can yield important social and economic benefits and opportunities but can
also lead to a range of negative consequences.
In Iraq, urbanisation occurred as a result of the slow shift of population from agriculture
to industry and services, and within the past four decades as GDP and revenues from oil
increased. Modern urban infrastructure was created featuring new municipal and government buildings, new industries, and health and educational services. Nomadic
communities and foreign workers flowed into these new centres. The share of urban
population in Iraq doubled from 35.1 per cent in 1950 to approximately 70 per cent in
Most Iraqi cities have been developed through limited land-use planning and zoning.
However, this has not always prevented unplanned physical growth. It is now the norm to
find residential zones next to industrial sites, with all the potential risks this implies for
human health and safety. Throughout the country, cities have encroached onto
agricultural land where the urban peripheries grow faster than the cities themselves.
Spontaneous or squatter settlements tend to grow in the poorest parts of urban areas
where local governments are short of the resources needed to provide basic services such
as road networks, health care, sanitation and wastewater treatment plants.
Due to its recent history, Iraq has not been successful at exploiting the natural
comparative advantages of its urban areas as efficient exchange points for labour, goods,
services, and capital. At the same time, rapid urbanisation has, in many instances,
outpaced housing and service provision. With urbanisation having reached the 70 per
cent level, it is clear that the main challenges of the future should be tackled in the urban
areas of Iraq.
1.5 Linking policy reform and capacity building
The present Reconstruction Plan highlights the demand for improved management and
servicing of Iraq‟s urban and housing sector and proposes a strategy for addressing this
demand through international co-operation. Unlike other conventional sectors, the urban
sector, encompassing several sub-sectors, is a complex development arena that should
integrate crosscutting themes as broad as poverty reduction, quality of the living
environment, gender equity, urban planning, and local governance.
Further, while measures to improve policies, governance, planning and management of
the urban sector benefit both local and national economies, urban areas are also exposed
to external forces over which they have little control. The strategy must therefore be
designed as a responsive, flexible framework that can evolve to meet the varied demands
of the urban and housing sector.
The Reconstruction Plan highlights the operational objectives of: (a) Achieving
sustainable forms of housing and urban development, based on a vision of
government playing an enabling role for the private sector, local authorities and 3civil society; (b) Revitalising Iraqi institutions, based on equitable participatory
decision-making processes; and (c) Reducing urban poverty.
These objectives are to be achieved through the promotion of revised policies for
- renewing housing delivery and upgrading - improving urban planning and management; - encouraging good local governance; and - addressing specific urban sub-sectors such as water supply, sanitation and solid
waste management; land management; and public transport.
3 Note: SCR 1325 Recalls the commitments of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (A/52/231)
as well as those contained in the outcome document of the twenty-third Special Session of the United
Nations General Assembly entitled “Women 2000:Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the
The Reconstruction Plan highlights key policy priorities in these areas, and proposes
UN-HABITAT‟s involvement in the urban development and housing sector in terms of
policy advice and capacity building and development of related investment projects.
The increasing complexity of the sector and the present weakness of public institutions in
Iraq point to the need for careful preparation of specific projects, with an emphasis on
institutional aspects to safeguard programme benefits and move towards sustainability.
The Reconstruction Plan calls for in-depth sector analysis and focuses on policy and
institutional issues. This policy effort should be accompanied by a broad capacity
building programme, at central and local levels, in order to ensure that the revised
policies can actually be implemented.
The Plan further recognises that reconstruction of physical infrastructure and housing
and of public institutions should go hand in hand and require a sustained effort properly co-ordinated at central and municipal levels.
The present Reconstruction Plan is part of the United Nations overall programme and
will involve a wide spectrum of Iraqi stakeholders. It is expected that the Iraqi Governing
Council and Ministries, and the CPA mandated by Security Council Resolution 1483 to
promote the welfare of the Iraqi people, will call upon the expertise of UN-HABITAT to
respond to the short- and long-term housing needs of Iraq. This will also help expand the
depth and impact of assistance provided to Iraq in the process of urban development. By
co-ordinating support to the sector, UN-HABITAT will be able to advance national
economic development, and to contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable
development in the key urban centres.
The Reconstruction Plan includes two thematic chapters dealing with the required policy
reforms in the area of housing (Chapter 2), and urban planning and management (Chapter
3). Then it describes the actions recommended in terms of capacity building, both at the
local level (Chapter 4) and at the central level (Chapter 5). Finally, it proposes an
institutional framework for UN-HABITAT‟s support (Chapter 6) and gives an indication of necessary resources (Chapter 7).
Chapter 2: HOUSING POLICY
With a rapidly deteriorating stock of housing due both to neglect and to inadequate
capital investment, Iraq‟s housing requirements are manifold. The consequences are high
numbers of people housed in sub-standard shelter and unplanned neighbourhoods. There
is further insufficient capacity for lending or investment, land and property management
systems lack resources and equipment, an impoverished private sector is reluctant to risk
capital, and there is a limited supply of adequate rental housing stock. UN-HABITAT‟s
approach to assisting the resolution of these issues involves an integration of both policy
development support and capacity building within the institutions responsible.
Priority interventions include:
o assessing and reviving existing property registration systems,
o improving living conditions in unplanned and sub-standard neighbourhoods,
o developing and modernising institutional capacities at central and local levels,
o re-establishing supply capacity for service and housing provision,
o undertaking a nation-wide housing situation analysis to revise national and local
2.1. Context and Challenges:
a. The housing sector in Iraq
Over the last two decades and up to the eve of the recent war, Iraq‟s housing policy has
been inadequate for meeting the needs of the country‟s 26 million people. The housing 4shortfall for the centre and south alone is estimated at 1.4 million units, while in the
three northern Governorates an estimated 1 in every 3 people lives either in grossly
substandard housing or neighbourhoods. Many of these were Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs). The relatively limited extent to which the housing stock has been further
depleted as a consequence of the recent conflict, has been assessed by UN-HABITAT
and amounts to some 4000 damaged units.
On the supply side, in the centre and south of Iraq, construction dropped from 16.09
million square metres in 1989 to only 347.9 thousand square metres in 1996. Further,
overcrowding and lack of maintenance have contributed to the deterioration of the
existing housing stock and infrastructure. Due to the housing sector‟s forward and
backward economic linkages, the sharp decline in construction investment had a negative
impact on all sectors of the economy including employment creation. This situation was
further exacerbated by a highly centralised system of governance with limited autonomy
and accountability at the local level for implementation of housing policies, planning, and
core basic services management.
With the inclusion of the housing sector into the Oil-for-Food Programme by the UN
Secretary-General in the year 2000, Iraq was allowed to import essential building
materials, equipment and spare parts for the construction industries. Since then,
investment in shelter and services started to recover and in 2002, the country was able to
4 UN-HABITAT: Housing Sector Observation Programme, 2003