UN logo  Office of the Iraq Programme

Français    arabic

box Home Page

About the Programme

Information for Companies and Delegations

Weekly Update

UN News Centre


Oil-for-Food Programme
Background Brief - Housing

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.

The housing sector was included in the Oil-for-Food Programme in June 2000. As of 20 March 2003, construction materials had flowed into the central and southern governorates in sufficiently large quantities to trigger a new era of housing construction after years of deprivation.

The resulting construction contributed to better housing, reduced overcrowding and a stronger economy, reflected in new employment opportunities in particular.

It was estimated that housing construction activity as of 2003 was greater than before sanctions were imposed. Analysis indicated that 14.93 million square meters of housing were built in 2001 compared with 13.93 million square meters in 1990. This corresponded to 64,932 new units able to accomodate 551,922 people and generate skilled and unskilled jobs for 219,328 people.

Given Iraq's high birth rate, it was estimated that the population of the central and southern governorates increased by 524,705 people during 2001, resulting in housing demand for 61,730 dwelling units. This estimate did not take into account needs resulting from reduced overcrowding and the replacement of obsolete stock. The data left little question as to the contribution of the Oil-for-Food Programme in reducing the nation's housing deficit.

Residential Construction in Iraq
(Square Metres)

Source:United Nations

Growth in Iraq's cement production
(1989 - 2001)

Source: Ministry of Industry and Minerals.


 Transport and
 Food Handling
 Water and Sanitation
 IDPs and Settlement
 Mine Action
 Click for photo gallery