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Iraq: Utilities

Volume 458: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate his Department has made of the proportion of the Iraqi population that has access to (a) safe and stable drinking water and (b) a stable electricity supply. (127154)

The most recent reliable data available for water supplies in Iraq come from the Iraq living conditions survey carried out in 2004 by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme.

The 2004 UN survey found that in urban areas, 99 per cent. of households have access to safe drinking water (but for 33 per cent. the supply is unreliable). In rural areas, 6 per cent. of households have access to safe drinking water (but for 22 per cent. the supply is unreliable). Since 2003, donors (including DFID) have worked hard to restore supplies. As a result, the US Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO) estimates that an additional 5.4 million Iraqis have improved access to drinking water.

IRMO estimate that electricity generation since July 2006 has fluctuated between 3,000 megawatts (MW) and 5,350 MW. The average for 2006 was 4,400 MW, just above the pre-2003 level. During the week of 1-7 March, electricity availability averaged just under six hours per day in Baghdad, 12 hours in Basra and 16 hours in Nasiriyah.

Although 5,000 MW have been added to the national grid since 2003, electricity generation in Iraq is not meeting demand. This is due to several reasons: old and dilapidated infrastructure; a result of years of under-investment and mismanagement; shortage of fuel supplies; and sabotage of key facilities. Furthermore, demand has increased considerably to over 9,000 MW, with the influx of electrical goods such as refrigerators, televisions and air conditioning units.