23 July 2004 -- The UN Environment Program (UNEP) has launched an $11 million project to restore Iraq's damaged marshlands.
The project, funded by the Japanese government, is intended to revive marshlands in southern Iraq that have been severely drained by dams built on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, local residents have opened some floodgates to bring water back into the marshes.
UNEP said in a statement that the project will not only oversee the restoration of the marshland's ecosystem, but also try to bring clean drinking water and sanitation services to the people living in the area.
Iraq's marshlands are home to rare fishes and birds. The area is considered by some to be the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden.