The Iraq Water Project
The Iraq Water Project (IWP) is a project of Veterans for Peace, Inc. (VFP), a national, veterans Peace & Justice organization based in St. Louis, MO. Our main partners in the IWP are Life for Relief & Development a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering around the world, and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Iraq (CISPI) who raise community awareness of the suffering of the Iraqi people and substantial funds for the IWP.
Thousands of families now have access to clean water.
The Iraq Water Project (IWP) so far sent three teams of veterans to Iraq who paid for their own expenses and worked alongside the Iraqi laborers repairing water treatment plants. We are proud to announce that thanks to the IWP six water treatment plants in different cities and provinces of Iraq are now again serving clean drinking water to more than 85.000 people. Read a report by our IWP Project Coordinator sent from Iraq in August 2003.
In response to the continuing crisis in Iraq due to the first Gulf War and economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, Veterans for Peace members in the United States created the Iraq Water Project in 1999.
Fredy Champagne and Edilith Eckart were the founders and first co-chairs of the project and members of the first team to travel to Iraq to begin the work of rebuilding water treatment plants in the country devastated first by war and then by economic sanctions and continued bombing by the United States of America. Edilith later traveled to Basrah to insure that the water was indeed safe to drink. Over several years, six water treatment plants were rebuilt in rural Iraq.
The primary goal of the Iraq Water Project was to save lives.
The second goal of the original IWP was to educate the American people about the devastating effects a decade of sanctions had on the average citizens of Iraq and to force an end to these sanctions against Iraq.
The sanctions have been lifted, not as we hoped, through education and pressure on the US government, but as a byproduct of US President Geoprge W. Bush's unprovoked attack on that nation. The sanctions have been lifted because the War on Iraq completed the destruction of the infrastructure, a foreseeable consequence that was completely ignored in the prewar planning. The US made sure the oil was flowing, but did nothing to prepare for the chaos that comes after the fall of a government. Now, it is not only the vast rural areas that are without safe drinking water, but the big cities as well. The US government has been unable to even get the lights on, feed the hungry or provide basic health care.
Before this latest war, and in calamitous consequence of earlier US policy, Iraq was a social and environmental disaster in the making. Now it is a social and environmental disaster, made and delivered.
Veterans For Peace has begun a new phase of the Iraq Water Project.
First, we will work with LIFE for Relief and Development to reclaim the first six water treatment plants, and make good the damages done to these plants by our own country's belligerent actions.
But more importantly, Veterans for Peace will be watching the US government and the reconstruction corporations chosen in a no-bid system for their donations to the Bush-Cheney campaign fund. We will work aggressively to insure that basic human services such as clean water, sewer and electricity needed by the Iraqi people are not sold out to benefit a few wealthy Americans at the expense of this proud and ancient culture.
SUMMER OF 2003 REPORT: http://www.iraqwaterproject.com/
During June and July 2003, I visited five of the six water treatment plants which Veterans for Peace rebuilt in Iraq. All five are working to some degree - although there are some serious problems with the four Abu Khaseeb plants that need to be fixed. This is a sharp contrast to my December 2002 visit, during which I found the plants to be, for the most part, in good condition and working well.
Throughout the trip, I met with hospital administrators, doctors, and other health care workers. Diseases caused by polluted water are still the largest killers of children, and the incidence of water-borne diseases is again on the rise, largely due to the disruption in government services caused by the invasion and occupation. Thus, our help in providing clean water is needed more than ever.