Since its launch in November 2013, ASHRI-2 has delivered critical data, information and knowledge management tools on the groundwater conditions in Iraq. Based on internationally applied Best Practices, ASHRI-2 has deployed state-of-the-art methodologies and techniques in geo-scientific assessment, cartography and IT-based documentation supporting strategic groundwater resources' management.
Implemented by UNESCO Office for Iraq, with the main collaboration of the Ministry of Water Resources in Baghdad (MoWR) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources (MoAWR) of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the project now focuses on skills advancement and tailored On-the-Job-Training of water sector staff on standard operating procedures, geo-scientific data collection and processing, mapping, surveying and prognostic scenario analysis underscoring the overall sustainability of technical assistance provided for the empowerment of the water sector administration.
"We are proud that ASHRI-2 has provided Iraq with a great wealth of new groundwater data and modern information management tools, forming the geo-scientific backbone for a comprehensive management system on national groundwater resources in Iraq", said the Advisor to the Minister and Director-General at the MoWR in Baghdad, Mr. Dhafer Abdullah Hussain.
"The newly provided data on groundwater resources, and technical capacities developed in sustainable groundwater management, strongly support our efforts to cope with a progressively increasing pressure and stress on scarce and thus precious national water resources, being impacted by steadily growing sector demand, and water allocations safeguarding basic services' delivery within the context of IDPs and the prevailing humanitarian crisis in our region", stated the General Director of Water Resources, MoAWR, KRG, Mr. Mohammad Amin Faris.
"Acquiring a full understanding of the water shortage in Iraq is the first step towards effectively addressing its deep social and economic impacts", stated the Director of UNESCO Iraq Office, Louise Haxthausen. "Having the Capacity Building Component - being one of the core-elements of ASHRI-2, completed, this intervention will offer main technical references for all stakeholders of Iraq's water sector. Adhering to internationally recognized and applied best practices, the project will substantially contribute to informed decision-making, and thus sustainable use of national groundwater resources. At the same time, the outcome of ASHRI-2 can be key to open doors for trans-boundary management of shared water resources to address water governance, adaptive capacity towards climate change induced water scarcity ", added Mrs. Haxthausen.
EU Ambassador to Iraq Patrick Simonnet, said: "this project illustrates very well the importance of effectively managing water resources in Iraq. We are sadly reminded on a daily basis what challenges Iraq has to face, and this initiative is both timely and topical as more impetus on this transnational issue is needed in light of the in-country developments. Water is key in this region, and we should not lose track of its future, ensuring a sound and sustainable management of water and land resources. We are confident that UNESCO, in cooperation with the Iraqi authorities, will bridge the gaps at this critical time and provide all the necessary tools to face the challenges of water shortages – not only for Iraq, but beyond.”
Through a EU contribution of five million Euros, "ASHRI-2" has validated and updated essential data and information on Iraq’s groundwater resources, improving the government's management capabilities in this field. Building upon UNESCO's long experience and studies in the field of drought and water resources' management in Iraq, ASHRI-2 crucially addresses water shortage and scarcity, and its dangerous outcome on socio-economic and cultural development, health, environment and eco-systems.