Natural Hazard Risk
Iraq faces a variety of natural hazards and risks due to its varied climate, including drought and desertification, floods, sandstorms, and earthquakes. Affecting 2.4 percent of the population, droughts cause the largest human impact, followed by earthquakes and floods. The greatest economic damage on record, $1.3 million, was due to floods. Additionally, factors like poverty and forced displacement combined with weak institutional frameworks for disaster risk management (DRM) undermine the country’s capacity to manage disaster risks.
Iraq has made steps in advancing DRM, many of which occurred before the 2003 regime change. There is no principal legislation governing DRM in the country. Current legislative measures include the Emergency Use Law (1961), the Civil Defense Law (1978), the Social Care Law (1980), and the Public Health Law (1981). While the federal budget allocates money each year for an emergency fund, it has primarily been used to manage counter-terrorism and unrest, not natural hazard-related needs.
The state’s institutional capacity to effectively manage disaster risk was inhibited during the post-2003 political transition. Moreover, the absence of a national coordination platform has posed serious limitations for existing institutional and legislative DRM systems. Key challenges for DRM in Iraq include limited institutional capacity, limited access to professional equipment and training, inadequate fiscal resources and manpower for disaster response, and an absence of a central authority to create a strategic stakeholder plan.
To further advance Iraq’s DRM agenda, government priorities include:
- Improving institutional capacity to better plan for and respond to natural hazard and climate change risk; and,
- Better understanding natural hazard and climate change risk.
GFDRR has helped advance DRM in Iraq since 2009 through country-specific and regional support. The majority of GFDRR support has focused on integrating DRM in the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa sustainable development agenda, while improving regional capacity building and collaboration.
Following the retaking of Islamic State-occupied territory in 2015, GFDRR provided the World Bank with technical expertise to lay the groundwork for an emergency loan. GFDRR specialists conducted a rapid remote assessment of four cities that estimated the impact, damages, and preliminary recovery and reconstruction needs of affected populations, with a focus on the restoration of infrastructure and municipal services. This assessment informed a $350 million World Bank project that will support the reconstruction of damaged or destroyed infrastructure and restore basic public services in municipal areas under government control.
GFDRR is supporting a project that will help build resilience in Iraqi cities by improving the delivery of basic services. Planned activities include the development of risk profiles and an emergency electricity plan that will help the Government of Iraq restore basic electricity services.
GFDRR anticipates demand for:
- Building institutional capacity to identify, assess, and understand disaster and climate risks in terms of their economic and fiscal impact;
- Strengthening disaster emergency preparedness efforts; and,
- Improving Iraq’s infrastructure resilience.