April 1st, 2009 12:39 EST
UN Projects Helping Iraq's Recovery
UN NEWS CENTRE
1 April 2009 " United Nations reconstruction projects have made a real and meaningful impact " on Iraq`s recovery, an independent report has found.
Welcoming the study, UN Resident Coordinator for Iraq, David Shearer, said that it shows that the Iraqi people have benefited from our efforts and donor funds have been well invested, despite a very difficult operating environment for our staff. "
Over 85 UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers have been killed in the war-torn nation since 2003.
The Stocktaking Review " carried out by the Norwegian aid effectiveness firm Scanteam assessed UN projects funded by the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), the world`s largest UN multi-donor trust fund, which has channeled over $1 billion from 25 nations into the country since 2004.
Some 80 per cent of UN schemes surveyed were either acceptable " or satisfactory " " the highest grade " and security costs were found to be just 2 per cent of overall project costs.
The review, issued last week, also found no evidence of systematic corruption.
The UN was able to deliver despite the poor security situation through our close working relationship with government, civil society and local partners, " Mr. Shearer said.
He attributed the world body`s success to its reliance on a large team, present in Iraq for many years, of over 400 national staff in governorates and local offices. Their low-profile approach helped us carry out our work during the worst periods of violence. "
However, the report did point out some weaknesses in how UN projects are monitored and reported, as well as delays in completion. The Resident Coordinator acknowledged that some improvements can be made, with UN agencies already having taken necessary steps in these areas.
Currently, the UN has humanitarian and development projects in place across Iraq supporting schools, hospitals and water supply, among other essential services. The world body`s schemes also seek to spur economic reform and job creation, strengthen governance, promote human rights and protect women, children, displaced families, returning refugees and other vulnerable groups.
According to Mr. Shearer, improved security has brightened Iraq`s development prospects. But he cautioned that the road ahead will be bumpy, with a 32 per cent budget deficit projected this year due to falling oil prices and with capital investment falling by half from last year`s levels.
The UN will be expanding both its presence and assistance inside Iraq this year, but will be shifting its support to help the Government in areas including private sector development and public sector reform.
Thanking the international community, the Resident Coordinator called on donors to continue supporting the country`s rebuilding efforts. A coordinated development effort is more vital now than ever to consolidate Iraq`s recovery, " he said.