I’m Doug Silliman, the American Ambassador to Iraq.
Over the past few months, the people of Basrah have clearly expressed a desire for better public services and an improved quality of life, and through our Consulate General in Basrah, we have heard their calls.
We are offering our help to the Government of Iraq to better provide essential services, including clean water.
Starting this week and in the coming months, support from the United States will help the Iraqi Federal government and government of Basrah to respond to short-term emergency water needs, and to assist these governments to develop a long-term response plan.
But, ultimately, it will be the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to make the investments and reforms needed to better provide services to the people.
This is what the United States is doing now to help the situation in Basrah.
The United States Agency for International Development is partnering with UNICEF to increase access to clean water for 750,000 Basrah residents, including vulnerable populations in the areas of Al Rabat, Al Jubailah, Al Mowahad, Al Harthah, and along the Shat Al-Arab.
American support will purchase and install water pumps, and assist in the rehabilitation of a water treatment plant. And, after the start of the new school year on October 1st, our support will enable UNICEF to deliver potable water to 50,000 children in Basrah public schools in the most at-risk areas.
This will be a united effort led by the Government of Iraq, in partnership with the United States, UNICEF, and the international community.
To make sure your government and the international community are coordinating in a way that best meets Basrah’s needs, we are helping to organize a water conference sponsored by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers. This conference will bring together Iraqi ministries, the Basrah Governorate, and different countries and organizations to identify and prioritize quick-action projects.
The United States will also bring to Iraq a renowned water expert to advise the Basrah Provincial Government on project priorities, and identify the most critical actions needed to help resolve the water crisis as well as expedite the governmentís purchase of necessary equipment.
To further demonstrate our support for the people of Basrah and all of Iraq, the United States will train staff at the Ministry of Water Resources on how to better manage scarce water.
Friends, and especially our friends in Basrah, I want you to know that the people of the United States stand with you. Our goal is to help your governments, federal and provincial, better meet the needs of your communities and families. We call upon all of Iraqís many friends and neighbors to join us in doing the same.
God bless you.