Baghdad province is a paradox. It is one of the richest in the country, yet has pockets of deep poverty. Security is improving throughout the country and the capital, but it still has the most violence. Electricity production has increased yet half of Baghdad suffers from sever power outages. The United Nations’ Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit recently released a paper detailing the situation in the capital province.
Baghdad has the largest, most urbanized population in Iraq. There are 7,145,470 people there, which is 24% of the total population. 87% live in urban areas, 13% in rural ones. The province is divided into nine major districts: Abu Ghraib, Adhamiyah, Kadhimiyah, Karkh, Madain, Mahmudiya, Resafa, Sadr City aka Thawra, and Tarmia.
Abu Ghraib: 326,626
Sadr City: 1,316,583
The security situation in Baghdad has improved with the rest of the country, but it is still the most dangerous area in the country. From June to December 2008 there was a steady decline in security incidents with one large increase from August to October that subsequently leveled off. At the beginning of June there were around 400 security incidents a month in the province. That declined to around 300 in August, but then increased to almost 550 by October. Since then they have decreased to around 250 by the end of 2008. The U.S. military has much more in depth reporting than the U.N. and found that attacks went from 2,221 a month in April 2008 to 713 in December.
Baghdad faced the most displacement in the country during the sectarian war. After the Samarra Shiite shrine bombing in February 2006 1.6 million Iraqis became internal refugees. Over 60% of those came from the capital. Today there are 90,731 displaced families in the province, the largest amount in the country. Some Iraqis have begun to return, although it’s still a small percentage of the total. The International Organization for Migration recorded 31,521 families coming back to Baghdad so far as of February 2009. They face a variety of problems including finding jobs, permanent housing, and services.
Iraq’s unemployment rate matches that of the country’s. Iraq has 18% unemployment. 12% of males in the capital are unemployed, compared to 20% for women. 83% of the male population was involved in the labor force compared to 81% in the country. Unemployment for them was concentrated in Resafa and Sadr City that had double-digit joblessness. As a recent U.N. report found very few women are involved in Iraq’s economy. Only 11% of Baghdad province’s women were either employed or looking for work, compared to 18% in the country. There are wide differences between the districts however. In Mahmudiya and Tarmia 76% and 67% of women respectively were involved in the labor force. In Sadr City it was only 8%. Jobs for women are directly related to education. 43% of women over 10 years old in the province lack a primary education. The U.N. employment study found that women needed a college education to find steady work.
Employment in Baghdad
Male Unemployment (15-64 years old)
Abu Ghraib 3%
Sadr City 15%
Males In Labor Force (15-64 years old)
Sadr City 83%
Abu Ghraib 87%
Female Unemployment (15-64 years old)
Abu Ghraib 2%
Sadr City 12%
Females In Labor Force (15-64 years old)
Sadr City 8%
Abu Ghraib 49%
Baghdad is one of the richest provinces in the country, but still has pockets of poverty. In Adhamiyah the U.N. found no families in the lowest income quintile. In Abu Ghraib (1%), Karkh (1%), Kadhimiyah (2%), and Resafa (4%) there was also little poverty. That compared to Sadr City (16%), Madain (20%), and Mahmudiya (20%) where poverty was the highest.
% of households in the lowest income quintile
Abu Ghraib 1%
Sadr City 16%
The Electricity Minister recently announced that Iraq had surpassed pre-war levels of power production. The problem remains that output does not meet demand. The capital is a perfect example. In Karkh, Sadr City, Resafa, and Adhamiyah more than half the population has power cuts for more than 11 hours a day. Abu Ghraib on the other hand has the best electricity supply in the province with only 2% suffering from long power outages.
% of households with more than 11 hours of power cuts or no connection to electricity network
Abu Ghraib 2%
Sadr City 67%
Baghdad’s water supply is quite good. 10% of the province compared to 26% in the country is connected to the water network. Only Mahmudiya has a real problem with almost 50% having no access.
% of households not connected to water network
Abu Ghraib 0%
Sadr City 0%
Most Iraqis depend upon the country’s food rations, which are the largest in the world. That hasn’t prevented problems with malnutrition however. 22% of Iraqis, and 21% of Baghdad have children five years and younger that suffer from chronic malnutrition. The districts worst affected are Sadr City, Kadhimiyah, and Adhamiyah, while Abu Ghraib, Mahmudiya, and Tarmia have the fewest incidents.
% of children 0-5 years old with chronic malnutrition
Abu Ghraib 4%
Sadr City 20%
Baghdad overall does better than the rest of the country in terms of chronic diseases. 8% of the province reported being affected by them compared to 9% in Iraq. Tarmia did the best with only 4% reporting chronic cases, but that compared to Karkh, Kadhimiyah, Abu Ghraib, Sadr City, Adhamiyah, and Resafa that were all in double digits.
% of individuals with chronic disease
Abu Ghraib 11%
Sadr City 12%
Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, “Baghdad Governorate Profile,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, February 2009
- “Iraq Labour Force Analysis 2003-2008,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 2009
International Organization for Migration, “Three Years Of Post-Samarra Displacement In Iraq,” 2/22/09
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Iraq’s Electricity Production Surpasses Prewar Level,” 2/19/09
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, "Quarterly Report and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress," 1/30/09