JICA (Japan) and UNDP Partnership Reinforcement Agreement to Accelerate Economic Recovery in Iraq
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and UNDP announced a reinforcement agreement to strengthen their partnership and accelerate the implementation of infrastructure and economic development projects in Iraq to improve the economic recovery and living condition of Iraqi people in key sectors such as electricity, water and sanitation, oil, irrigation, transportation, industry, health and communication.
On 16th February 2014, JICA and the Government of Iraq signed a new loan agreement to recover the functions of the Iraqi port system by rehabilitation works in Khor Al-Zubayr Port following the support to Um Qasr Port. With this, 20 projects under Japanese ODA Loan with a total value of US$ 4.4 billion are implemented by Iraqi ministries. Most of the on-going 19 projects are now in their implementation phase and have started to deliver improved public service to the Iraqi people.
Under this partnership, UNDP has been working alongside JICA and the Government of Iraq (GoI) on project monitoring and capacity development. UNDP identifies bottlenecks, providing analyses and recommendations for action on cross-cutting issues to the Monitoring Committees in order to accelerate the projects’ implementation in an accountable, transparent, and efficient matter. The data collected over the last four years show significant improvements in the management skills of implementing ministries in line with international business standards whereby the duration of some procurement process is shortened by 60%.
“Since 2009, JICA has been literally in close partnership with UNDP in Iraq. With extensive networks of UNDP National Staff members and their day-to-day monitoring of the project implementation, we have been able to grasp the field realities of the projects and jointly tackle emerging issues” said Mr. Shohei HARA, Chief Representative of JICA in Iraq. “JICA is aiming to support the GoI through our lending programmes, not only to develop tangible infrastructural projects that will have national impacts but also to develop the capacities of officials in Iraq and the GoI itself on project management. With the partnership with UNDP, we have been pursuing issues like delegation of authorities to the project management teams, tax and duty exemption, and knowledge sharing. In this sense, the partnership among GoI/JICA/UNDP has entered into a new stage” he added.
Ms. Jacqueline Badcock, UNDP Iraq Resident Representative, highlighted the partnership as “effective in supporting GoI and JICA to materialize significant impacts on Iraqi economy which will be reflected in daily lives of the Iraqi people….We are grateful to reinforce our partnership with JICA together with the Government of Iraq. Improvement of national strategic infrastructures will contribute to better public services as well as to the private sector development for more and better job opportunities”.
The GoI and the Government of Japan have established a Joint Committee, under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Commission (PMAC), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and representatives from the Embassy of Japan and JICA, to monitor the use of the funds and meet regularly with Iraqi ministries to discuss the progress of the projects. This mechanism not only identifies issues and solutions related to project implementation but also improves the current business climate in Iraq to contribute to private sector development.
“The GoI welcomes the stronger partnership between JICA and UNDP. Together, they can contribute to the further improving Iraq’s national infrastructure and its various economic projects. This monitoring mechanism is also developing the GoI’s project management and its approach to internationally standardised business procedures with an established monitoring committee, one of the longest continual GoI committees, providing oversight and variety of modality to resolve the issues identified for all parties’ efforts and its platform becomes a knowledge sharing catalyst to disseminate success and lesson learnt among us.” said Mr. Thamir Ghadban, Chairman of PMAC. “The tripartite collaboration mechanism between JICA, UNDP and GoI is a good example of international cooperation with the concepts of partnership and ownership at its heart” he further added.