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Oil-for-Food Programme
Background Brief - Electricity

The Oil-for-Food Programme was established in April 1995 as a temporary measure to ease the unintended consequences of United Nations sanctions on Iraq's civilian population. The first Iraqi oil sold under the programme to pay for humanitarian supplies, was exported in December 1996 and the first shipments of food arrived in March 1997. As of 20 March 2003, the Oil-for-Food Programme covered 24 sectors of need and had prevented the further degradation of public services and infrastructure, making a significant difference in the humanitarian situation nationwide.

About 75 percent of Iraq's installed power generating capacity was partially damaged or destroyed during the Gulf War, but under the Oil-for-Food Programme in the 15 central and southern governorates, available power increased by 900 megawatts between 2001 and 2002. The number and duration of power cuts declined and during the 2002 summer peak, there were no planned power cuts in Baghdad City.

In the three northern governorates, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) implemented the Electricity Network Rehabilitation Programme (ENRP) to rehabilitate the electricity network across the four main sectors: generation, transmission, substations and distribution. For the first time in 15 years, substations were being built in northern Iraq.

The northern governorates of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah are dependent on hydroelectric power and suffered greatly when a three-year drought (1999-2001) sharply reduced power supply. To counter the loss of power, the UN provided more than 2,000 small- to medium-size generators to deliver emergency supply to essential humanitarian facilities such as water pumping stations and hospitals. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) installed three 29 MW diesel generators - one for each of the northern governorates, to compensate for hydropower loss from dams in Dohah and Durbandikhan. The programme generated sufficient electricity from the network to meet minimum humanitarian requirements in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil. Although the rehabilitation of distribution networks benefitted low-income domestic consumers, power cuts remained a fact of life.


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