Improving access to clean water for over 100,000 residents in Basra

August 4, 2021

Photos: UNDP Iraq

Newly rehabilitated water treatment plants in Basra’s Deer al-Saleem (left)  and Abi al-Khasseb districts (right).

UNDP Iraq improves access to clean drinking water for the people of Basra.

The Iraqi port city of Basra’s four million residents rely on the Shatt al-Arab river and its freshwater canals for water. Yet in recent years, chronic water shortages have been caused by overuse, pollution and reduced rainfall. Decades of underinvestment have led to a decaying water infrastructure, resulting in a sharp decline in the availability of potable water to households in the region.

“There was water in the city, but it was not enough for all of us, especially safe drinking water. We used to receive water for only a few hours a day,” says Taha Faisal Obaid, 32, a mechanical engineer who lives in Basra. In 2018, three decades of water scarcity in Basra resulted in severe water contamination, sending over 118,000 residents to the hospital due to water poisoning.

The rehabilitated Hamadan-Balad Water Treatment Plant pumps 400 cubic metres of water per hour. Photo: UNDP Iraq

Through the Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme (ICRRP), UNDP is rehabilitating seven major water treatment plants in the Shatt al-Arab, Al-Qurna and Abi al-Khaseeb districts of Basra. This is possible due to generous support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This critical support comes at a time when less than 11 percent of Basra’s population has access to clean drinking water. These water treatment plants will improve access to potable water for over 100,000 Iraqi men, women and children.

Photos: UNDP Iraq

Today, five out of seven water treatment plants have been completed.

The completion of five treatment plants has transformed lives in Basra. “I see the positive impact it has on our lives. Today, the water is pumped to households regularly,” shares Taha with a smile. The plants, which are rebuilt to international quality standards, filter and treat water before it is piped to households through the city’s network.

Amjad Abdel Rahim, 37, who works at the Al-Dewa Water Treatment Plant, says, “People are incredibly grateful to receive water regularly. We ensure that the water is treated and pumped to the 175 houses relying on this plant. Today, they can receive water throughout the day, and it is safe to drink.”

About the Project

Access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right and helps to ensure health and stability in Iraq. With USAID support, UNDP started rehabilitating seven critical water treatment plants in September 2019 to improve access to potable water for the residents of Basra. The project is implemented through UNDP’s Iraq Crisis Response and Resilience Programme. Today, five plants have been completed and another two are scheduled for completion by the end of 2021