Iraq is addressing strategic urban development of the Pilgrimage governorates

Aug 27, 2017

“There is now an opportunity to recalibrate urban planning and align it with the realities on the ground, making it durable on the one hand, and prone to investment on the other,” said the EU Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Patrick Simonnet. Photo: UN-Habitat Iraq/2017

Karbala- UN-Habitat and UNDP are helping Iraq to address strategic urban development of the Pilgrimage governorates of Najaf and Karbala. Nearly thirty Iraqi officials convened in the holy city of Karbala, on 22-23 August 2017, to partake in an intensive two-day workshop titled “Governorate Urban Strategies for the Pilgrimage Cluster: Meeting the SDGs in Iraq". 

The officials represented the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Municipalities, Construction and Housing, and Public Works, both the national and local levels, as well as Karbala Governorate. UN-Habitat organized the workshop under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP), a project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the European Union (EU).

Director General for Local and Regional Planning at the Ministry of Planning, Mr. Mohammed Al-Sayed, said: “We appreciate the chance to enhance coordination between Governorate officials and improve the capacity of the staff at the central and local levels, in line with the decentralization efforts of the government.”

The workshop focused on the on-going spatial analysis of urban issues and development indicators concerning the governorates of Najaf and Karbala, being developed by UN-Habitat in close coordination with the Ministry of Planning.  The proposed strategy hinges upon the concept of ‘development corridors’ at the regional level to stimulate sustainable socio-economic growth and facilitate the movement of millions of pilgrims and visitors, particularly during religious events. 

The EU Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Patrick Simonnet, said: “We welcome very much this timely initiative. Against the current backdrop of stabilization, we need to reconcile some in-country migration currents. There is now an opportunity to recalibrate urban planning and align it with the realities on the ground, making it durable on the one hand, and prone to investment on the other. It is more so relevant for these two governorates, adding a touch of ‘spiritual' to the ‘spatial'."

“Both Karbala and Najaf have seen the convergence of two overlapping immigration flows, one of people fleeing the insecure areas of conflict, and the other one of farmers leaving the rural hinterland to seek better opportunities in the city,” said UNDP Assistant Country Director for Iraq, Mr. Ali Kamouna. “Developing sustainable urban strategies is critical for these Governorates.” 

Participants identified two critical challenges facing the Iraqi authorities: enhancing the available and inter-connectivity of transportation infrastructure and services for pilgrims, and addressing outstanding infrastructure, services, housing, socio-economic needs of the smaller towns that gravitate around the urban poles of Karbala and Kufa.  

The next and last LADP Governorate Urban Strategies workshop will be held in October 2017.

Contact

Nidaa Hilal, Communications Specialist, UNDP Iraq, (m) +964 780 447 3336

Alan Miran, Media and Communications Specialist, UN-Habitat, (m) + 964 750 342 7036

Mohammed Fawzi, Press and Information Officer, EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, (m) +964 780 928 5377

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