Distinguishing Features Of Iraqi Environment And Its Horizons

Dr. Ali Hnoush*



The Twentieth Century has witnessed critical changes in the general Ecological system as reflected in the rapid deterioration of all its components (water and agricultural resources, bio-diversity, trees and plantation coverage, increasing desertification, dissemination of toxins, spread of mal- nutrition diseases,and lack of services and other components). The results of such phenomena are materialized on the social level in the form of emigration, unemployment, poverty,

deformed demographic structure (between city and country) and the deterioration of life quality. Increase of acts of violence (with its different forms) since more than four decades is the most destructive phenomenon to environment (natural and social environment). All these phenomena are reflected in the decline of indicators of ecological sustainable development in Iraq. These indicators represent the lowest levels. The paper discusses the mutual relation between ecological deterioration and fall in development indicators.
Thus, preserving environment requires a strategic option that depends on sustainable development in conditions that enjoy peace and social conciliation for a secured future and the right of the coming generations to living and progress in an environment free of pollution.

Ecological And Geographical Characteristics Of The Structure Of Iraqi Environment.

The Iraqi environment is an objective phenomenon and a result of a series of geological, climatic, and natural changes that occurred millions of years ago. The main components of Iraqi environment can be represented as follows:

1- The region of the two Iraqi rivers basin valley, has passed through two geological and climatic stages during its origin. The geological factors (according to the theory of continental geological movements) started from about 25 million years ago when the region of the Arab Island separated from the African continent. It took the shape of an armor moving towards the Iranian one, leaving behind a fracturing rift to its West, which later became the Red Sea. As to the west and the northeast, the basin valley collided with Iran's armor and slid beneath it. During this collision and sliding process, unevenness of the terrain occurred forming Zaghrous and Toros mountains upwards, and a lowland downwards passing by the Arabian Gulf to the northwest direction and Baghdad.
2- With the passage of time, many changes and fluctuations occurred as the dropping of the sea level. Moreover, climatic and hydraulic changes overlapped with the accumulation of natural factors as land degradation and the sweeping away of huge quantities of rocks, sand, and mud to the northern part of that lowland. All such factors lead to filling that lowland up with earth and the emergence of sedimentary level land in Iraq. These changes resulted in two different neighbouring areas at the same time. The first, a low land split by the two rivers: Tigris and Euphrates and other river branches, the second, a highland to the west.
3- The two existing rivers: Tigris and Euphrates that are present since the quadrate age, that is to say from 3 million years, constitute the most significant environmental components in Iraq. With the view of the relative diversity in rainfall and temperature, this led to climates relatively different for basic plants like palm trees, herbs, sugar cane, and papyrus in the middle and the south opposite to the plants of the Mediterranean area and regions of moderate climate in the North.
4- In view of the food abundance, such environments, at the beginning, attracted wild and aquatic animals as well as birds forming an adequate environment for Man after that. With the passage of time, due to life changing conditions, the human groupings had to cooperate together in distributing work in such closed environments at the rhythm of the rivers, lakes, semi dry areas, or hills. Such groupings formed a social economic life pattern based on the unity of the family and individuals, solidarity and using a special language of their own.
5- According to such characteristics, Iraq has three local environmental systems that are the Northern, the middle and the Southern parts that lie within the general environmental framework. (1)

Current Features Of Iraqi Environment

The environmental sustainability rests on 21 basic indicators that can be grouped in five main axes. Such axes include all the components of the ecosystem: the efficiency of natural resources, levels of air pollution and the share of emitting gases per capita, management of water resources, effective methods for upgrading the social and economic levels to improve environment in general as well as human life. Other components are involvement in civil society and international conventions on environment (2).

Yet despite the importance and validity of international division on the local level, there are some indicators that enjoy a distinguishing specificity in Iraq and are focused in the following pivots:

Current features of Iraqi environment
1- Deterioration of Natural resources
2- Population Growth
3- political and social instability
4- Poor services and low levels of human development.
- Pollution of environment
- Climatic changes.

Deterioration Of Natural Resources

It seems that natural resources are the first and main victim of ecological deterioration. Such deterioration is represented in the decline in the absorption ability of the ecosystem.

The twentieth century especially its second half witnessed deterioration of all components of natural resources. Natural resources and water surfaces have decreased to the half approximately. Water resources have significant importance to the climatic, geographical, economic and historic features of Iraq. Water is the main nerve of life to all components of local ecosystem. Moreover, water resources represent the umbrella under which all natural, social, and geographical features of Iraq are gathered. Hence, preservation of water resources from pollution (including shortage in resources) constitutes one of the major pillars of any strategic view of the present and future Iraq.

Along the old history of Iraq and till the last century, Agriculture has constituted the main source of national income as well as the percentage and components of employing the workforce. But today, agriculture comes in the third place after oil and customs. The weak infrastructure, deteriorating bio diversity and the increase of pollution levels resulted in the continuous decrease of productive agriculture lands. The fluctuating and weak performance (of agricultural sector) lead to its weak contribution in the public income and providing food security year after the other. Moreover, the weak economic performance, poor services and quality of life in the countryside caused the increasing migration from the countryside to the city, that resulted in distortion in demographic structure as well as the imbalance between the city and the countryside and the role of each in achieving development. From a decade ago, the invoice of importing food products exceeded 1 billion dollars annually. Moreover, it is expected to increase to reach 3.5 billion dollars annually by the end of the present decade. In the importing outcome, agricultural land percentage has declined from about 20% at the beginning of the past decade to reach less than 12% in the recent time (3).

The Forest areas were representing 4% of the total areas till 1948. Yet today they nearly disappeared from the map. The pastures that used to feed around 70% of the animal wealth decreased to be provided only 10-25% of food requirements of animal wealth. Iraq lost more than 1/3 of its bio-diversity and more than 60% of its wealth of palm trees in addition to the deterioration of its quality. Palm tree numbers reached 32 million till the end of sixties, yet declined to reach 24 million trees in the seventies and 13 million nowadays. That decline in natural resources led to the absence and loss of many kinds of birds, wild animals and fish resources. Consequently, leading to the imbalance in biodiversity (4). The loss of such resources took the shape of dramatic changes that were reflected on job opportunities, means of living and distortion of development images that tended towards the oil sector. Such distortion of social and economic structure is one of the aspects that lead to instability - Table (1) reflects the changes in Natural resources.


Table (1)


Some Of The Changes In Natural Resources During 20th Century In Iraq

Water Surfaces    Declined in the end of the 20th century to 50%
Arable lands Declined from 20% of geographical area to 12%
Pastures Used to provide 70% of animal food requirements and now represent from 10 to 25%
Forests Used to represent 4% of geographical area, now represent 0.2%
Palm trees Declined by 60%



The lesson learned from this image is that preserving diversity of nature and the good quality of its hidden resources is of paramount importance not for food security only but for sustainable development as well. Finland's experience (for instance) proves that it gains from forest resources and manufacturing the wood only (without inflicting any harm to the area or the quality of forests) equals to what Iraq's gains from all its full resources.

Population Growth Pressure:

The population of Iraq increased during the second half of the 20th century with high levels from 4.6 million according to 1947 census (5) to nearly 27 million in 2005. Population growth has increased more than five times during a period less than six decades. The demographic structure of population changed as well. The population percentage in cities during the last century was representing 35% of population and represents more than 75% at the beginning of the present century. The Iraqi society is a youthful one as about half of its population are less than 18 years old. Rates of population growth vary during the century according to stability and development. Such rates were high during the sixties and seventies. However, they declined during the eighties and nineties and till now. The census survey of the Ministry of Planning and Development cooperation shows the low rate of population growth accompanied the Iraqi- Iranian war to reach 4% remained for the period from 1999 to 2003. The low rates of population growth are due to the high mortality rates of children below five years old which reached 40 for each thousand, as well as the spread of mal- nutrition diseases. Quarter of Iraqi children suffer from mal- nutrition (6) due to the deteriorated conditions in Iraq during the eighties and nineties.

The growth in Population in high percentages means an increasing demand on consumer goods and services provision for new inhabitants. That requires producing an annual increase in investments in domestic income equal to no less than 4% to meet the service requirement of new inhabitants. Such kind of investment does not achieve an improvement of living conditions, it only provides the minimum standards of population requirements. This problem reflects to some extent the challenge to face future worries in order to bridge the gab between what is available for consumption and the local product. However high rates of population growth if accompanied by spontaneity and weak organization, they usually result in social, serviceable, and political crises, as well as lack of stability and security. The population pressure in Iraq is represented in the following aspects:

1- Increase in youth unemployment due to the retreat of opportunities of development in the past decades.
2- Increase in demand on food products and services (Health care, education, potable water, municipal services, etc) corresponding to the available weak local potentials
3- Expansion in construction and building cities on agricultural lands and fields.
4- Decrease in the per capita share of natural resources, and the increasing competition and conflict over resources.
Natural resources deterioration during economic crises, the increase of unemployment rates and poverty open the door to strong competition over such resources. Lessons learned from the experience of countries lacking stability and suffering from civil war (like Sudan - Sera lion- Congo- Rwanda...) show that the main reasons that trigger ethnic and racial conflicts result from the strong competition over limited natural resources as a result of population pressure. Thus, the conditions for preserving and developing natural resources , enabling inhabitants to protect such resources as well as, decreasing the rates of population growth is the best means to attain social and economic security and stability.

Violence, Instability And Threats To Environment.

Iraq has experienced increasing violence in its different forms. long wars and its destructive level along the last four decades of the 20th century were a clear aspect of violence. Since the end of the year 1961 and till today, Iraq lives in war (internal and external). Thus violence and its culture has become a threat to development and environment. Figures prove the increasing pace of daily violence in public life as well as the spread and variety of forms of war, militias and gangs that practice violence, rape and terrorize people during the post period of the fall of the previous regime. Violence has resulted in indicators of which are:

- Increase of civilian and military victims
- High expenditures on the economic level and development in general
- Dissemination of violence culture to different generations in society.
- Destruction of infrastructure of services in general and in cities in particular.
- Erosion of Natural resources due to movement of military machinery.
- Migration inside and outside the country and the spread of a state of instability and social tension
- Explosion of oil pumps and fires in chemical installations.
- The daily explosions of ammunition
Such incidents resulted in grave outcomes on the physical and moral levels of civilian inhabitants. In addition to the outcomes of previous wars (mines- depleted Uranium deposits- unexploded bombs). we can imagine the level of environmental deterioration (7). Moreover, military actions consume financial resources and requirements allocated to improve social living standards. Meanwhile, the poor pay for such actions as we find the youth competing to dismantle destroyed military machinery contaminated with depleted Uranium as a source of living. The military basis as well is a source of pollution. The American military basis in Bortereco for instance caused the increase of infection with cancer by 26% more than the normal rates due to the effect of the resulting pollution from it on near local inhabitants. It is well known that military forces, especially at times of crises, do not abide by the rule of law and environmental norms. Under the umbrella of national security, military forces cause unlimited pollution of water, air and labour protection systems, agricultural lands, water network systems, electrical and communication wires. This is in addition to the compression of land due to the movement of heavy military machinery that exceeds 50 Tons. America military basis alone leave behind 5 tons daily of plastic materials besides fuel and machinery residues and other hazardous remains in an atmosphere where environmental conventions do not cover the combating armies(8).

Violence with all its different forms dreadfully reaps the lives of many civilian victims. Military actions victims range between 23 - 27 thousands, the injured between 100- 120 thousands and that 223 thousands Iraqis suffer from diseases due to war. The number of war victims exceeded 6 Thousand soldier and policemen, the killed and detainees from terrorists range from 40 to 50 Thousands. Terrorist actions increased since 2003 nine times according to the Pentagon (9). The American forces in Iraq consume 1/4 million bullets to kill one terrorist (10). The conflicts indirectly increased the mortality rates of children through epidemics and mal- nutrition and poor services in general. More than 5% of families suffered damage from last war, their houses were destroyed due to violence, and the percentage is in increasing especially in the west region. As for security, 34% of urban families lack the sense of security (11).

The patterns of tension and conflicts continue in which many unacceptable prohibited methods even to war traditions were used. Certain internationally prohibited weapons were used like the cluster bombs which cause splinters to spread over wider areas penetrating human bodies causing the death of 30% of the injured even if they were of good health conditions (12). As for the depleted Uranium, it is a radiating weapon whose dust cloud leaves poisonous materials that cause cancer when it inhaled especially lung cancer. In the ongoing war, the number of children and aged people who were disabled exceeds the number from previous wars. The percentage of injured with permanent disability of the total population (without the soldiers) especially from women, children below nine and the aged in the present war exceeds that percentage from the First Gulf war whose percentage was higher than the Iraqi- Iranian war (13).

Deterioration of Services And Human Development

In general, basic services suffer from deteriortion in quality, like clean potable water, sewage networks, electricity, health, education, security, cleanness of cities and municipalities which are the basic elements of daily life. Moreover many requirements of human development like the right to obtain food, work and other rights are facing critical conditions.

Services of potable water and its deteriortion are a major concern of all Iraqi population. Clean potable water (its quality and quantity) is one of human development standards and a proof of the quality of life. Poor quality of potable water cause the spread of various diseases resulting from contaminated water and the inefficiency of municipals' potentials and Baghdad secretariat to secure reasonable limits of potable water especially during summer. The estimates of UNDP report show that the percentage of population that obtains safe potable water does not exceed 30% of the total population, which is a very high percentage (as per table 2)



Table (2)


Percentages Of Possibilities Of Access To Potable Water

Country   Urban Areas Rural Areas
Jordan   100   83
Lebanon  100      100
Iraq   60    33 (acc. To the survey)

                                                                   90 according to UNDP




Source: Ministry of Planning and Development cooperation (2205)

A survey of living conditions in Iraq 2004 - Analytic report - in collaboration with UNDP

Contaminated water is a main reason for the spread of Diarrhea in general as well as 63%of Diarrhea infection in children. Civil life face serious obstacles especially in securing adequate health conditions, in addition to lack of services and electricity. Food shortage is another problem that addresses vulnerable segments of society. In fact it is a problem with a strategic dimension especially that 1/4 of Iraqi children (below the age of five) had mal- nutrition diseases. On the health sector level, the report indicates that the percentage of the spread of chronic diseases in Iraq is 8%. It is noted that respiratory system inflammation is the most prominent disease (14), in addition to the high percentage of children vulnerable to death and infection of different diseases. Poor drainage systems are another source of environmental pollution especially in big cities (15).

Poverty is another obstacle before human development in Iraq. It is an economic, social and environmental issue. However, poverty is not an ideological issue. The poor person is the outcome of the scarcity of available resources either capital resources or property (agricultural lands or experiences) that can be introduced to market for a material equivalent required for the daily requirements. Environmental resources (Agricultural land, animal wealth, water resources and production elements) play a vital role to keep the strategies of human development and combat poverty. Yet, the environmental disasters (drought- earthquakes- epidemics) or loss of job opportunities play a major role in spreading poverty. The poor are the first victims of land degradation and deterioration of natural resources (16). Most of Iraq rural migration in the 20th century is due to land Erosion and deterioration of natural resources. Land Erosion of high expenses for the poor, the matter that causes the loss of the actual value of land productivity and infertility, especially under the primitive production methods and use of unskillful workers. The greater poverty appears in the inability to meet the moral and physical requirements, scarcity of resources and energy in a country that produces energy. Such poor conditions might create by the end conditions liable to explode at any moment in a country where the national rate of poverty reaches approximately 28%. Thus the poor are in need of funds (an association or an official or personal party) as well as social security or natural resource (17).

Women face hard social and economic conditions. Women participation represents 13% of total workforce. Such percentage refers to the doubled women participation in work as compared to its percentage of population. Participation of women in work can be distributed as follows: 32% in agriculture, 36% in financial mediation, 59% in education, and 32% in health sector. About 10% of families suffer from population crowdedness. The influence of such indicators on human status led to the decline of Iraq in the human development manual from the 20th position in 1990 to 126th position in 2000 (8). As for the administrative and financial corruption, it is a hazardous pest against development. Certainly, corruption hinders sustainable development where mistrust prevails as well as the abuse of power and authority against the rule of law. Iraq's position for integrity and transparency indicators decline from 130 to 146 in the world.

Many questions are raised on the recent characteristics of development in Iraq, is it an agricultural or industrial or serviceability country? the facts of more than the past half-century show the failure of agricultural development to secure the requirements of society from foodstuff. We could not benefit from agricultural revolutions in many developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America during the Second half of the 20th century. Industrial development including oil industries declined . Services, in general (municipal, health and information), were characterized by backwardness in comparison to Iraq neighbouring countries. The previously mentioned elements increased expenditures on importing basic products. The matter reached the extent to import potable water in agricultural products' formula. An international expert shows that the production of 1 ton of wheat requires 1000m3 of water. If we consider that Iraq imports about 3 million tons of grains (wheat- rice...), that means that it imports at least 3 million m3 of water annually in the form of imported grains.

When focusing on the characteristics of production and services, we find that Iraq (regardless its abundant natural, and mineral resources and technical professionals) does not have the precise features of industrial or agricultural production or even the description of serviceable country as widely known on the Middle East Level.

International reports on sustainable development indicators in Iraq show that the country have a very low position among the world countries (146 countries) besides North Korea and Uzbekistan.


Table 3


Iraq's Position According To Sustainable Development Index

Countries of high level environmental sustainability

Country Income per capita (Dollar) Age after Birth (year) Position
Finland 32.830 77.9  1
Germany 32.800 79.1 31
Denmark 39.720 78.0 26

Countries of low level environmental sustainability

Country Income per capita (Dollar) Age after Birth (year) Position
Yemen 330 59.8 137
Sudan 350 55.5 140
Iraq 1500 61.0 143

Source: Environmental Sustainability Index (2005)



Ecosystem Pollution

Sources of Ecosystem pollution vary between biological, chemical, chaotic and noises that pollute air, water, soil and affect climatic factors. Backwardness and poor services and lack of awareness are all elements that lead to deterioration. Decades ago, man used to drink water from rivers and springs without fear. But today the image has changed. The direct usage of river water is now a main source of diarrhea and Typhoid infection to children and other vulnerable segments. Chemical pollution as well spread on wider limits that make it difficult to predict its hazards. Industrial and heavy metals disposals (mainly lead, iron, manganese, mercury, uranium) and other chemical compounds that man use in industry, agriculture etc.. are another source of thousands polluted spots. All polluted sites are industrial sites (20). The previous regime left a military arsenal and huge amounts of ammunitions and explosive materials that range between 600 thousands and 1 million ton of TNT. Studies estimate that between 80 to 90 % of cancer diseases are the outcome of environmental pollution in the world.

Pollution of air in the cities is a major problem especially that respiratory system diseases are connected to air pollution. Sources of air pollution vary between industrial (oil industries), serviceable (producing electricity), constructional (cement), cars and machines mostly from last generations that used fuel-containing lead. If Adding to this wastes, drainage and fire remains which all are dangerous sources for air pollution. Follow up actions for environment circles in Baghdad for instance shows the high levels of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide gases as well as lead and solid elements in air that most of the time reach double the international rates (22)

Pollution with hydrocarbon compounds especially those resulting from oil industries, in addition to oil spills, destruction of oil installations and fires are also another terrifying source of air, water, and land pollution. Oil installations witness acts of destruction (environmental terrorism) which as well deepens the severe crises of environmental pollution. The number of attacks that targeted oil pumps leading to oil spills and causing fires reached 244 cases from March 2003 till June 2005. Other cities and living quarters like Basra, Karkouk and Durah suffer from severe hazards due to high levels of pollution. Remains of construction materials and military machinery are spread all over the streets and cities that lead to pollution of the environment. "Aweireg" compound in Baghdad is one of the main compounds that contains 2000 destroyed tanks, 6000 machine and canons from the last war (23)

Iraqi territories, especially along the boarders, are full of mines (for humans and machines). The number of mines is estimated to be about 20 million killing a huge number of inhabitants of rural areas as well as shrinking the opportunities of benefiting from animal wealth and agricultural resources. However, efforts exerted to control such mines are still modest when compared to such heavy problem.

Sources of surface water depend largely on neighbouring countries (Turkey- Iran- Syria). Mostly, the incoming water is already contaminated before even reaching the Iraqi boarders due to the flow of water recovered from agriculture activities in countries that overlook Tigris and Euphrates. Such water usually carries chemical and organic pollutants. Turkey for example uses 1,743 million tons of chemical compounds most of which is used in the agriculture activities in East Anatolia Project. As for Syria, it uses 322 thousand tons of chemical compounds while Iraq uses 638 thousand tons. (24). Turkish and Syrian cities overlooking the mo0uths of common rivers dump huge amounts of drainage water as well as agricultural and industrial wastes. Added to this half million ton of drainage water wastes of Iraqi cities and billions of cubic meters of recovered water from local agriculture saturated with minerals, chemical and organic compounds that flows to running rivers. Now one can imagine the huge amounts of pollutants that rivers carry.

Water surfaces have turned to be a basin in which industrial and agricultural wastes are dumped. A matter which negatively impacted environment not only the beautiful feature of rivers, lakes and coasts, nor destroying the biodiversity and fish resources, but also it caused the spread of various diseases resulting from contaminated water and the expensive costs of purification of water. This is similarly applied to levels of pollution at Shat El Arab and the northern Gulf. In the gulf, about 280 ships and boats sank in its water, some of which since the First Gulf War on which board are crude oil and chemical materials supply whose polluting impact extends to cover the whole surface though in different levels.

In general, absence of monitoring especially on the internal level, in addition to absence of monitoring the imported elements (including foodstuff) and lack of health security systems at workplaces and in public life, all are indicators that highlight the main sources of environmental pollution in Iraq. The above mentioned are as well supported by lack of environmental awareness, poverty and poor environmental institutional systems.

Climatic Changes:

The current climate is an extension of the last ice age which the region witnessed from about 5000 years B.C. (25). However, high temperature, low humidity and rare rains characterize long summer season. Tigris and Euphrates' basins are of diminishing water resources with increasing strong wind especially sandy and dusty winds for long periods of time. Some of such winds cause storms especially with the low levels of water and plant coverage that play the role of biological filter for wind (26). Damage on biological and human lives due to climatic changes can be estimated. Climate with no doubt is the most factor affecting social and economic live, as well as the environment in general (27).

Costs Of Environmental Deterioration In Iraq

Environmental sciences have developed to include branches for assessing the consequences and costs of environmental deterioration. Environment and natural resources economics are now being used in addition to sciences of hygiene, epidemics, economics and others. The methodology supposed to be used in assessing the costs of deterioration depends on a large group of data and givens on the quality of air, potable water, rivers, lakes and other water surface, in addition to soil pollution, erosion and atmosphere. Impacts of deterioration and environmental pollution are assessed depending on the effect they impose on health, death rates and disabilities resulting from pollution. Changes in natural resources, water surfaces, desertification, biodiversity, and losses of agricultural economics are also calculated. However, such branches of sciences are rarely applied in Iraq.

Costs for urgently clean- up of the Iraqi environment is estimated by 18 billion dollars where services are not included according to UNEP report. If we adopt the study done by the World bank and UNEP on costs of pollution in Egypt, we find that the costs of environmental degradation for 1999 was estimated by 4,3 billion dollars with a total average of 4.8 of GNP. After five years, the Egyptian studies proved that the costs of pollution exceeded 9.6 billion dollars in 2004. In other words, costs have increased by 123% during (1999- 2004) with an annual rate of 25% and such increases are the highest growth rates in economic fields where 2/3 of total costs are allocated for hazards of pollution on health, while the remaining third for natural resources degradation.

UNEP studies prove that there are some hundred "hot spots" in Iraq in addition to some thousand contaminated sites due to industrial and military activities as well as violence in its different forms. The costs of cleaning up 20 contaminated sites requires 2 million dollars, moreover, oil industry department requires more than 10 million dollars for contaminated sites in it. Collecting the scrap metal of destroyed military machinery costs a few million dollars. In addition, the costs of establishing utility for treating wastes are about 22 million dollars. Yet it is not easy to estimate the total costs of environmental degradation. As for natural resources deterioration, studies are still limited. Soil degradation represented in erosion, desertification and high salinity levels in large Iraqi agricultural lands are estimated to be of high costs. More than half of the agricultural lands suffer from varying levels of erosion and salinity which is equivalent to million of hectares. Costs of remediation of soil erosion and desertification reach 3 thousand dollars per hectare, while the cost of adjusting soil salinity is more than 4 thousand dollars extended to 30 years with a discount rate 10%. The approximate costs required for collecting wastes is estimated by 8-10 dollars per Ton. In addition, the cost of damages due to carbon dioxide emissions is 20 dollars per Ton approximately.

Assessment of environmental degradation focuses on health by what is known as average age years to disability and the economic value of the year loss due to disease or early death represents the year's productivity value that is assessed by the individual GNP. The results of the practical assessment of deterioration cannot be totally precise. It is an approximation depending on the accuracy of provided data and information. It is also affected by geographic differences. Assessment methods depend on:

- High rate of deaths, diseases and disabilities accompanied by lack of clean water, good drainage system, and sound hygiene habits.
- Levels of air pollution and their impact on health
- Losses resulting from pollution on productive process, soil erosion and salinity, natural resources and their low productivity. (29)

Environmental Management In Iraq

The condition of Iraqi environment can be described as being disastrous during the period before the fall of the regime. Such phenomena spread over in the post regime period. In general, environmental institutions in Iraq suffer from:

- Poor infrastructure of environmental institutions and directorates.
- Inefficiency of monitoring authorities on the national and local levels.
- Insufficiency of environmental legislation and executive authorities , and the rule of law.
- Lack of environmental awareness and civil society organizations.
The formation of the Ministry of Environment is a positive step towards baring the responsibility of monitoring service and productivity sources confirming the absence of pollutants that harm Man , natural resources and the ecosystem. Environmental institutions are supposed to address disasters (natural disasters or of man- made) and develop plans and programmes to preserve environment in coordination and collaboration with other ministries and institutions. Experiences of coordinating with ministries (during the past regime and also the current experience) show the limited effectiveness of coordinating authorities (with consultative feature) and their executive efficiency. The alternative is to work for advanced levels of coordination between institutions and official circles with a common strategic feature. Common coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture (for example) will have a strategic feature through their interest in green areas, forests, trees, combating desertification, and other related problems. Coordination with the Ministry of Water Resources will be for preserving water , lakes, and other water surfaces from pollution. The same applied through organizing relations with Ministries of production and services. This can also be achieved through common programmes under a direct ministerial supervision. This requires, on the other hand, developing the institutions of the Ministry of Environment to play a leading role in the context of long-term strategic vision for 10-15 years.

The practical method lies in the Ministry of Environment authorities adopting advanced standards for detecting pollution levels (air, water, soil, foodstuff pollution) as well as updating environmental statistics and data. The Ministry should seek to contact specialized regional and international institutions to benefit from their experiences and contribute to environment conventions. The success of the environmental institutions' role of monitoring requires involving society in a real process of integration. This means that environment has three main monitoring institutions effectively overlapping, which are:

- Environment circles in the State's ministries including the Ministry of Environment play a monitoring role similar to financial monitoring and public inspectors.
- Civil society organizations that can play a significant role in monitoring as being a linking circle between society and State's authorities.
- Local inhabitants and raising environmental awareness as well as developing the public's role in preserving environment.

An environmental project cannot be granted success unless the previous three groups contribute in monitoring it. Thus, the Ministry of Environment is more like peoples' Ministry similar to the Ministry of Human Rights though its responsibilities are much more , besides protecting the human being, it is responsible for preserving the natural resources and climate from pollution and degradation. Moreover, the Ministry of Environment is responsible for monitoring foreign corporations ,their commitment to the quality levels and implementation of contacts through their adherence to international standards legislation ISO 14001 which is still missing in the local standards.

The main objective of preserving the environment is to secure adequate conditions to maintain life components. Preserving environment is concerned with developing designs and environment development plans. Thus preserving environment constitutes the steps and procedures that aims at:

- procedures prior to damages
- Treating damages from roots sources.
- Developing humanitarian environment
- Development aware of points of strength and natural resources
The strategic vision of nature depends on urgent and near stages that are directly connected to life , these are:
- Providing a safe environment, shunning from violence with all its forms as it is the hosting factor to all hinders of development.
- Securing clean potable water free from sources of contamination , in addition to the dire need to provide electricity in houses.
- Disposal of house wastes, brackish water, and treating drainage water in cities and population compounds.
- Conducting a survey for bombs, cannons and mines that threaten the human lives.
- Conducting a survey for sites in which the disposals of mass destruction weapons have been buried and which has been a source of pollution, marking such sites and warn people from their dangers, as well as seeking to clean- up these sites.
- Raising environmental awareness of the hazards of environmental pollution .
As for middle and long- term problems , they are related to the following main issues:
- Mitigating the pressures facing natural resources like soil erosion, water resources degradation, climatic changes and other relevant problems
- Comprehensive surveys of sources of air, water, soil, life components pollution, as well as developing strategies to treat sources of pollution.
- Deterioration of human life quality (retrogression of basic services levels, spread of diseases, mortality rates, poverty, ...)
- Enhancing civil society organizations concerned with environment.
- Awareness of international society and contributing to environment regional and international conventions , as well as benefiting from the experiences of neighbouring countries and international organizations.
- Reviewing the educational and cultural programmes and curricula to introduce the environmental aspect for raising awareness.

*Expert on Environment and Development Former under- secretary - Minister of Environment - Baghdad

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(4) Ali Hnoush (2004) The Iraqi Environment - The problems and Horizons- The Ministry of Environment - Baghdad
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(9) Paul Rogers (2005) Iraq in the Wider Perspective. Oxford Research Group. Oct.
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(12) Husum, H. Gilbert, M and Wisbolg.T (2000) save Live, Save Limbs: Life support for victims of Mines, Wars and Accidents
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