The United Nations Habitat for a Better Future project just released a fact sheet on the housing conditions in Iraq. It found that 40% of Iraqis live in slum conditions.
Iraq is a largely urban nation. 71% of the population lives in cities. Of those, 57% live in slum conditions according to the U.N. Diyala, 86%, Maysan, 82%, and Tamim, 78%, were the worst off, while Irbil, 38%, Sulaymaniya, 42%, and Salahaddin, 46%, had the lowest numbers. The main causes are population growth, overcrowding, internal displacement, and poor housing conditions. The U.N. warns that the situation will only get worse. From 1970 to 2007 Iraq’s population almost tripled in size. By 2030 they predict the country will have around 50 million people due to the large number of young people and high fertility rates. That means more overcrowding in Iraq’s urban centers.
% Of Households Living In Slum Conditions By Province
Dhi Qar 59%
Iraq overall 57%
The U.N. doesn’t believe this situation will be alleviated anytime soon because of a number of issues. Among them are laws limiting private investment, banks that give few personal loans, and a government that is slow to open public land to development. There is legislation, for example, that bars companies from owning land. Strong Iraqi nationalism that opposes foreign corporations, a largely state-run economy, and election year politics all deter Iraqi politicians from changing the laws and regulations. Like so many other things, Iraq is facing a growing problem that needs a response, yet the government is unwilling and unable to meet the challenge.
Abbas, Mohammed, “Iraq aims to allow foreign investors to own land,” Reuters, 5/25/09
Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, “Fact Sheet: Housing & Shelter in Iraq,” UN Habitat for a Better Future, 10/5/09
Ryan, Missy and al-Ansary, Khalid, “Iraq investment still hindered by politics, bureaucracy,” Reuters, 10/7/09