The Basra Compact, a flagship partnership to revive the economy in southern Iraq

May 5, 2015

The authorities of Basra and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) today signed a flagship agreement, the Basra Compact, aiming at strengthening participatory and accountable governance and reviving the economic activity in the southern governorate, which is not just oil-rich but needs to invest in its human capacity and private sector development. Protecting the cultural and ecological heritage of the Mesopotamian Marshlands is also a priority.

Despite being the richest governorate and hosting the main port in Iraq, Umm Qasr—the only shipping hub in the country—Basra is one of the most affected by poverty and chronic unemployment with 16.1% of the population living below the poverty line of US$ 2.5 per day and facing staggering challenges in terms of access to services.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Basra authorities outlines future cooperation in the areas of decentralization, financial management and budget execution, environment protection, private sector development including micro, small and medium enterprises, and support to the governorate’s 5-year strategic planning.

“Basra’s cultural heritage and natural resources represent an unmatched wealth of opportunities that can actively contribute to the recovery of Iraq’s economy and national stabilization strategy,” noted Sabah Al-Bazouni, who leads this initiative as Head of the Provincial Council.

“This agreement is enhanced by a series of consultations and mutual exchange of information to capitalize on natural resources being progressively reinvested towards the advancement of human development,” he said.

The UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNDP Resident Representative, Lise Grande stressed that working with local partners is a fundamental element of national ownership. “The United Nations, and UNDP in particular, is committed to harness the economic and human potential of Basra; we will turn black gold into human gold”, she promised.

Aqeel Al-Khalidi, a member at the Basra Provincial Council said: “We seek UNDP’s cooperation to improve the public finance management system at the Governorate of Basra and will devote all efforts to achieve the objectives of the Basra Compact."

Lastly, the Deputy Governor of Basra, Dhergham Al-Ajwadi highlighted that “establishing a partnership between the public and private sectors and micro, small and medium enterprises will help revive our economy; however, it will require vocational training to equip existing and future Iraqi workers to respond to needs in a variety of sectors.”

UNDP has nearly 40 years of experience in Iraq leading the UN’s development work, providing knowledge and practical expertise. In its long-term engagement with the government and the people of Iraq, UNDP focuses on inclusive participation, accountability, access to justice, women’s empowerment, security sector reform, decentralization and private sector development. In particular, UNDP supports the government’s 4-year development plans (2014-2017).


Areej Al-Musttaf, Programme Specialist, UNDP Basra

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