Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Iraq Bloggers Roundtable with General Phillips

The Iraqi reconstruction project has been a challenge- 13 billion dollars involved with 8.5 billion completed and 3.5 billion still to be spent. Infrastructure was in worse shape than we ever believed possible when we first arrived in 2003. Electrical system now has up to 12 hours daily service. World Bank states 100 billion dollars needed for the entire country to come up to international standards. Donor nations and Iraq must come up with the remainder of the funding gap. Capitol budget will need to be used to bridge gap. Health care with clinics and hospitals: have worked on 20 hospitals including Najaf teaching hospital with 13 teaching rooms that has now been totally renovated. 138 primary health clinics being built throughout entire country. Turnkey facilities with X-ray and dental offices to run a small local clinic and turned over to the Iraqi Ministry of Health who will provide doctors and staffing. Big project is in Basra Children's hospital which is also a teaching facility. 51% completed and will be turned over in July 2008. The Ministry of Health does not have the complete ability to sustain the facilities: logistics is difficult as they have shortages with consumables but they are learning how to do it. Generators need the fuel trucks so it is a long chain of supply and a great deal of maintenance is needed. Generally the staff is working well and the clinics are online. Work closely with Brinkley group in getting fuel out to the periphery and business sites as electricity is hardest to deliver. Currently up to 50% of the country needs greater electricity so phosphate plants are hard to get up and running as they utilize so much electricity. Security in Anbar compared to rest of country: everyone quite excited with progress there in destroying Al Qaeda. Number of attacks has gone down significantly. Tremendous change out there in the West. Oil production up to 2.6 million barrels a day from 2.1 million. Capacity is up to 3 million but problem is the pipeline and exporting. Reporters state not enough electricity but that is not accurate because Iraq has NEVER had 24 hour service. When you fly over Baghdad at night it is well lit up with spot generators every other street corner. They can use air conditioners and refrigerators and need to add to the grid instead. 8 Clinics have now been completed. 80 clinics now 90% complete and these will be turned over in next several months. Water projects and sewage treatment in Ramadi has greatly improved- total turnaround. Nasariya 250 million dollar water treatment plant where Iraqis are being trained to run it. Irbil also has huge water treatment plant for its 1 million citizens. Falluja is seeing its own plant being built but complex contracting issues have to still be overcome. Just look at US infrastructure projects and how long they take so we can't turn around an entire country in 3 years but there has been great progress. Electricity, clinics, water treatment, childrens hospital all showing great progress. 3,200 total projects have been completed in last 3 years.

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