CARE Says Coalition Authority Must Move Faster in Iraq

CARE
Friday, 18 July 2003

Security, Services and Salaries the keys to Iraqi reconstruction

CARE says the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority (OCPA) must do more to provide security, services and salaries in Iraq. The humanitarian organization, which has operated programs in Iraq for the past 12 years, recommends key steps to restore the country to normalcy. Pat Carey, Senior Vice President for Program, is sharing CARE's insights on Iraq today in testimony before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations of the House Committee on Government Reform.

"Acceptable levels of security have yet to be established, and this is having a very negative impact on the lives of ordinary Iraqis," said Carey. "Moreover, the longer this situation persists, the greater the risk to the success of the overall mission of rebuilding Iraq in the wake of regime change."

Without security, services are being compromised. Since June 23, water supply problems in Baghdad have increased, due to shortages in electricity. None of Baghdad's three sewage treatment plants, designed to handle just 30 percent of the city's sewage, is currently working. The offices of the Iraqi General Corporation of Water and Sewage (GCWS) were completely looted after the war; and just three weeks ago, newly supplied computers werestolen. CARE staff report that the lack of basic utilities compounds the security problem in Baghdad, as unlit city streets play into the hands of organized criminal gangs.

Iraq had a very centralized system for water, electricity and other basic services. The OCPA has failed to understand and work with established, centralized structures and procedures. This has led to increased confusion, undermining efforts to deliver safe drinking water. "In such a system, you cannot expect the body to keep functioning if the head is cut off, and that is what has happened in most Iraqi ministries following the war," says Carey. CARE sees similar problems in the Health Ministry, which is without clear leadership following the removal of all Director Generals from the Ministry under the de-Baathification policy. "The OCPA must restore these institutions to running order in the short-term and consider decentralizing some of their functions at a later time," concludes Carey.

Another key to restoring normalcy in Iraq is paying salaries more systematically. "The government was the biggest employer in pre-war Iraq," says Carey. "We urge the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority to accord high priority to the regular payment of salaries of government services. Doing so will improve delivery of services, contribute to re-starting the Iraqi economy and increase the ordinary Iraqi's sense that things are returning to normal. At this time it is much better to err on the side of paying out too much, rather than too little, in salaries."

About CARE:

CARE is one of the world's leading humanitarian organizations fighting global poverty. CARE has been working in Iraq since 1991, focusing on water and sanitation, and children's health and education. Approximately 7 million Iraqi people have benefited from CARE's work in the past 12 years.

For more information, or to contact CARE, see their website at: www.care.org

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