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FEATURE STORY April 5, 2018

Mosul - Rising from the Rubble: World Bank helps Iraqis bring back life to their liberated cities



  • Recent visit to Mosul left World Bank’s senior management with mixed feelings
  • Two World Bank key projects help bring life to Mosul and other liberated areas in Iraq
  • The WB’s support to Iraq includes rebuilding infrastructure and reforming the economic and social fabric.

Welcome to Mosul: Busy streets, traffic jams, shops opening up and ready for business. This is the scene that greets you in one part of the city rebuilt by resilient Iraqis with help from the international community. The scene will totally change when you travel a few minutes to the western side of the city which suffered an unprecedented scale of destruction in the battle to liberate Mosul from Daesh. Piles of rubble in the streets stand as a witness to the huge number of lost lives, broken and separated families, widows and orphaned children, and lost livelihoods.

According to initial satellite analysis, some 8,500 residential buildings have been severely damaged or destroyed, most of them in the Old City of Mosul. In addition, about 130 kilometers of roads have also been damaged overall. Air strikes destroyed the five bridges linking the east and west of the city across the Tigris river. The city’s airport, railway station, schools and hospital buildings are also in ruins.

These two different scenes of the city left Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East & North Africa region, and Lakshmi Shyam-Sunder, Vice President and WBG Chief Risk Officer with mixed feelings during their first official visit to the city last week.

World Bank Group

"On the one hand. you look around here and you see all this destruction. It is terrible, and it makes you feel awful. On the other hand, if you walk ten minutes away from here, you see the amount of reconstruction taking place, the amount of energy that the Iraqi people and the people of Mosul are showing and it gives me great hope for the future," said Ghanem.

Bringing Mosul back to normal in less than a year after being liberated from Daesh is just one example of how the World Bank is working with the Iraqi government on addressing the country’s tremendous reconstruction and development needs. Through its projects in Mosul and the rest of the liberated areas, the World Bank — working closely with the Iraqi government — managed to quickly mobilize teams and resources.

Through its Iraq Emergency Operation for Development (EODP) project — initially a US$350 million operation approved in 2015, with additional financing of US$400 million approved in late 2017 project — the Bank supported the reconstruction/rehabilitation of the bridges and roads providing 3 million Iraqis with improved mobility, over 2 million improved access to electricity and 1.1 million with improved waste management services. The Bank also helped rehabilitate three of the five main bridges across the Tigris river connecting the city — the Old (First) Al Hadid Bridge, the Fourth Bridge, and Al-Muthana (Second) Bridge — as part of a plan to rehabilitate 14 bridges located in the liberated areas by 2020.

The World Bank’s support to liberated areas is not limited to infrastructure but also to reforming the economic and social fabric in a sustainable, inclusive, and participatory manner. The Bank’s Iraq Social Fund for Development (SFD) project financed with US$300 million, is working to improve the living conditions of over 1.5 million poor households in Iraq by increasing access to basic services and creating employment opportunities. The SFD provides a longer term support to targeted Iraqi and is preceded by the Emergency Social Stabilization and Resilience Project (ESSRP) financed with US$200 million, scheduled to be presented to the World Bank Board on April 5, 2018 to increase livelihood opportunities, access to psychosocial services, and expand the provision of social safety nets.

Lakshmi Shyam-Sunder, who was actually born in Mosul, said, "Visiting Mosul again is one of the most memorable experiences for me both professionally and personally. Seeing what has happened makes me sad, but I also find it immensely fulfilling to see the Bank engaged not only in physical reconstruction but also interventions that enhance social inclusion, which are vital for the survival and prosperity of this country."

World Bank Group

Earlier this year, the World Bank helped organize and co-chaired the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq in February 2018, in partnership with the Government of Iraq, the State of Kuwait, the UN, and the EU. During the conference, the Iraqi government presented its National Reconstruction and Development Framework, which outlined its plan to transition from emergency response to reconstruction and long-term development. The conference, which was a testament of the international community’s strong support to Iraq, has managed to mobilize nearly US$30 billion of additional international support by 62 governments and development banks. It also announced Iraq’s openness for business through bringing together around 2,000 private sector companies interested in investing in the country

In the lead-up to the Kuwait conference, the Ministry of Planning in Iraq and the World Bank published a Damage and Needs Assessment that estimated the cost of reconstruction and recovery needs in seven of the most-affected Iraqi governorates at US$ 88.2 billion. In a speech at the opening of the Kuwait Conference, the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announced the scaling up of support to Iraq's reconstruction efforts, noting that Bank commitment will reach US$4.7 billion this year, up from US$600 million four years ago.

In his meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, Hafez Ghanem echoed this sentiment of support: "We at the World Bank will be standing with you and doing everything possible to help you get through this and build a better and stronger Iraq."