Iraq is about to tap the countrys water supply for water-treatment and disinfection, a move that could help alleviate the country’s chronic water shortage and allow for an estimated 100,000 people to have access to clean water in the country.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in a televised address.
“Water for Iraqis is the lifeblood of our country and we cannot allow our people to go without water,” Abadi said.
The prime minister, who also heads the ruling Iraqi National Congress (INC), said the new plans, which would include installing water treatment plants and a wastewater treatment plant, would allow Iraq to meet its water needs in the coming years.
The government has promised to improve water quality in Iraq, but there is a long way to go, as the country remains dependent on imported water and is unable to tap reserves of imported water.
The water-quality standards are not in place yet, however, and the government has not yet provided a detailed schedule for the changes.
“Our government has invested heavily in the water supply and sanitation systems, but it is not enough,” Abadallah al-Zoubi, the minister of water and sanitation, told Al Jazeera.
“There is a lot of work to be done to ensure that all water is treated, disinfected and treated in the right way, and that it is delivered to our people.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a report from the UN agency that found water quality had deteriorated in Iraq due to widespread use of the country as a transit point for people, including children, to travel from the country for work.
According to the UN report, more than half of the estimated 3 million people living in Iraq were exposed to hazardous levels of lead, cadmium and mercury.
The report also found that the country is still suffering from the fallout from the 2003 US-led invasion that began with the invasion of Iraq and continued for more than three years, with the country facing severe health problems and a high risk of disease.
“The government of Iraq is in the process of making important reforms in order to improve the quality of its water supply, to ensure the health of the population, and to protect the environment,” the report said.
“To achieve this, the government must establish a comprehensive plan to provide water to the country, with a focus on its water resources, especially the water sector, and on the protection of the environment.”
The government says that it will allocate a total of US$1.9bn (£1.3bn) to improve its water infrastructure and infrastructure projects by 2021.
The government has also pledged to increase the size of its irrigation projects by 30 percent.