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Iraqi Water Projects Affected By Budget Cuts

Iraqis fill their tanks with filthy water from the Diyala River east of Baghdad (file photo)
BAGHDAD -- Budget cuts recently approved by the Iraqi parliament are adversely affecting projects to improve water supplies and conserve consumption in the country, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Water Resources Minister Abdullatif Rashid told RFI that some 120,000 kilometers of canals throughout Iraq need to be cleared with more than 200 dredgers and lined with concrete, but that budget cuts will delay or endanger this work.

Plummeting oil prices have forced the Iraqi government to slash its 2009 budget twice from an initial amount of $80 billion to about $62 billion.

Rashid said that the most important result Iraq took from the World Water Forum in Istanbul in mid-March was the support demonstrated by world leaders for Iraq's demand to receive more water from its neighbors.

Turkey, Iran, and Syria promised to release more water to Iraq.