View Full Version : Rebuilt Iraqi Projects Found Crumbling

04-28-2007, 09:48 PM
Rebuilt Iraqi Projects Found Crumbling (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/world/middleeast/29reconstruct.html?_r=2&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print).

A major problem in any sort of Western-based infrastructure project in the Third World - the lack of sustainability.

In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.

The United States has previously admitted, sometimes under pressure from federal inspectors, that some of its reconstruction projects have been abandoned, delayed or poorly constructed. But this is the first time inspectors have found that projects officially declared a success — in some cases, as little as six months before the latest inspections — were no longer working properly.

The inspections ranged geographically from northern to southern Iraq and covered projects as varied as a maternity hospital, barracks for an Iraqi special forces unit and a power station for Baghdad International Airport.

At the airport, crucially important for the functioning of the country, inspectors found that while $11.8 million had been spent on new electrical generators, $8.6 million worth were no longer functioning.

At the maternity hospital, a rehabilitation project in the northern city of Erbil, an expensive incinerator for medical waste was padlocked — Iraqis at the hospital could not find the key when inspectors asked to see the equipment — and partly as a result, medical waste including syringes, used bandages and empty drug vials were clogging the sewage system and probably contaminating the water system.

The newly built water purification system was not functioning either.


Curiously, most of the problems seemed unrelated to sabotage stemming from Iraq’s parlous security situation, but instead were the product of poor initial construction, petty looting, a lack of any maintenance and simple neglect.

A case in point was the $5.2 million project undertaken by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build the special forces barracks in Baghdad. The project was completed in September 2005, but by the time inspectors visited last month, there were numerous problems caused by faulty plumbing throughout the buildings, and four large electrical generators, each costing $50,000, were no longer operating.

The problems with the generators were seemingly minor: missing batteries, a failure to maintain adequate oil levels in the engines, fuel lines that had been pilfered or broken. That kind of neglect is typical of rebuilding programs in developing countries when local nationals are not closely involved in planning efforts, said Rick Barton, co-director of the postconflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research organization in Washington.

“What ultimately makes any project sustainable is local ownership from the beginning in designing the project, establishing the priorities,” Mr. Barton said. “If you don’t have those elements it’s an extension of colonialism and generally it’s resented.”

Mr. Barton, who has closely monitored reconstruction efforts in Iraq and other countries, said the American rebuilding program had too often created that resentment by imposing projects on Iraqis or relying solely on the advice of a local tribal chief or some “self-appointed representative” of local Iraqis ...

04-29-2007, 02:53 AM
That burns, because we sure as hell know better. Imperial Life in the Emerald City (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400044871/104-3075668-4435162?ie=UTF8&tag=smallwarsjour-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1400044871) is worth he time to see how this happened.

If you think you are busy, make the time. I busted it out across a dozen 15-minute "before-going-to-bed" sessions, and a couple one-hour stretches - and I'm a slow reader. The book will make you shake your head.

04-30-2007, 08:27 AM
Full SIGIR April 07 (http://www.sigir.mil/reports/quarterlyreports/Apr07/Default.aspx)report is here.

Wash Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/29/AR2007042901414.html?%20hpid=topnews)summary here.

The inspector general's report lays out how even successful endeavors -- for example, the completion of more than 800 school projects and training for thousands of teachers -- haven't realized their potential because of security risks. During a four-year-old insurgency and sectarian fighting, less than a third of Iraq's 3.5 million students attend class, according to the report, which cited Iraqi Education Ministry statistics.

The report found that almost all of the nearly $20 billion in reconstruction funds appropriated by Congress in 2003 has been allocated. More than half of the projects to be undertaken with that money have been completed, and many more are underway. In the medical field, for example, only 15 of 141 primary health-care centers have been completed -- and only eight of those are open to the public -- but 126 projects are slated to be finished by the end of the year.

As in past reports, the inspector general's office found some of the most significant reconstruction shortfalls were in electricity production. "Electricity has the longest way to go," special inspector general Stuart W. Bowen Jr. said in an interview Friday.

Before the U.S.-led invasion, Iraq's power system produced 4,500 megawatts a day with an aging infrastructure in which 85 percent of power plants were at least 20 years old, the report said. Reconstruction officials initially hoped to increase daily output to 6,750 megawatts by the summer of 2004, a target later lowered to 6,000 megawatts. But in the most recent quarter, Iraq generated only 3,832 megawatts a day.

The shortage was particularly acute in Baghdad. Before the war, the city received an average of 16 to 24 hours of power a day. Last spring, Baghdad averaged eight hours of electricity a day. This year, during the last week of March, the city received only 6.5 hours a day. The rest of the country, however, received an average of 14 hours of power a day.

Slightly more than three-quarters of the $4.2 billion in reconstruction funds allocated by Congress for electricity have been spent, and 402 of 537 electricity projects have been completed. At power plants, though, operators aren't getting enough fuel and water to produce electricity. And only 24 of 56 projects planned to upgrade the transmission of power have been completed, with sabotage of feeder lines curbing the amount of electricity going into homes and businesses.

Similar security problems have affected other areas of reconstruction, the report found, making construction difficult and hindering projects slated for completion over the next year and a half ...

05-03-2007, 10:07 AM
U.S. Inspector General for Iraq Under Investigation (http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN0235914920070502).

Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction whose office has uncovered abuse of both Iraqi and U.S. funds, is under investigation himself, a White House spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"Complaints against Mr. Bowen are being looked at by the integrity committee of the PCIE (President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency), said spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore.


Several former SIGIR employees filed complaints about Bowen in 2006, focusing on charges that he failed to come to work for long periods at a time, and used SIGIR staff to work on a book about the broad lessons of Iraq reconstruction, said one former SIGIR employee, who asked not to be identified.