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Deteriorating water quality and decreasing water quantity are causing a water crisis in Iraq. The crisis is having a profoundly negative impact on people's livelihoods and on the economy. In the most water-stressed areas, vulnerable people have had to move from rural areas where water is scarce to urban areas, placing additional pressure on the water supply.

To mitigate the impact of water scarcity on the most vulnerable people in rural areas, the United Nations Children's Fund has worked in partnership with the Iraqi Water Authorities on a programme to increase access to more resilient water services in some highly vulnerable rural and conflict affected areas of Iraq where water services are unreliable. One major contributing factor to the problem of access to water was the unreliability of the electrical supply, particularly in the summer months. The programme identified that an alternative to grid electrical power was needed to achieve a more reliable source of energy for water provision.

The programme installed solar-powered water systems in two vulnerable districts in northern Iraq: Shekhan district, Ninewa, and Makhmur, Erbil. These systems are now providing sustainable, predictable and reliable water services to two vulnerable districts which had previously suffered extensively from power shortages and service interruptions. The water from the new solar-powered systems provides access to safe water for refugees and internally displaced people, as well as local communities. Importantly, the programme has increased water conservation and efficiency and helped to strengthen community resilience. It has also highlighted the need for adaptive and innovative technological solutions, which can support more effective disaster response and recovery.

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