UNOPS in Iraq 

The UNOPS Iraq office opened in Amman, Jordan in 2004 and has sub-offices in Baghdad, Erbil, Sulaymaniah, Kirkuk, Babil and Basrah in Iraq. The office also manages projects in Jordan, Syria and Yemen.

UNOPS provides a range of project development, technical management and infrastructure-related services in Iraq, supporting economic recovery and development, reconciliation and civil society, elections, human rights and rule of law, and health, water and sanitation.

Since 2004, UNOPS has been the second largest implementer of projects for the United Nations Development Group Iraq Trust Fund (ITF), running 43 projects with a total budget value of $238 million for the Fund.

The following are examples of UNOPS operational support to partners in some key sectors in Iraq:



UNOPS is working to improve the emergency health response capacity of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), with funds provided through the World Bank Iraq Trust Fund to the KRG Ministry of Health.

Activities include the design and construction or rehabilitation of blood banks and Emergency Response Centres in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk.

Support also includes establishing a communication system, procuring ambulances and medical equipment and building the capacity of the medical staff providing emergency services.

Water and sanitation

UNOPS is also implementing two pilot projects, in partnership with UNICEF and with funding from the UN Development Group Iraq Trust Fund (ITF) to reduce the level of ‘unaccounted for water’ in local water distribution systems in the governorates of Najaf and Anbar. The projects are expected to reduce losses in the water systems and limit water-borne diseases stemming from polluted water in damaged pipes.

In 2009, UNOPS improved the quality and quantity of water supplied to 25,000 residents of Takia town in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, with funding from the ITF. This was done through the drilling of two deep wells, the construction of a service reservoir, the extension of the pipe network and the training of technical staff from the Directorate of Water and Sanitation.

In Sidakan and Rawanduz, in Erbil Governorate, UNOPS improved the water supply system for more than 30,000 inhabitants by constructing a service reservoir and laying more than 30 km of pipeline, with funding from the ITF. UNOPS also mitigated the effects of drought by deepening the wells.

Over two million people in eastern Baghdad benefited from a UNICEF-funded project, implemented by UNOPS, to install power substations at the Sharq Dijala Water Treatment Plant in Baghdad, which ensure continuous power to the facility.

Civil society

During Baath party rule, civil society in Iraq was nearly nonexistent. Since 2005, on behalf of a range of partners, UNOPS has supported civil society in Iraq by helping to develop empowered, competent NGOs guided by ethics. Working directly with civil society and public authorities on both the Iraqi federal level and in the Kurdistan Region as well as on governorate level and in local communities, UNOPS has simultaneously supported enhanced relations between these stakeholders and the development of a legislative framework to enable an active civil society.

Through grant projects, UNOPS has continuously built the capacity of Iraqi NGOs, enabling them to gain hands-on experience by improving their skills in project design and implementation. Between 2005 and 2011 UNOPS supported approximately 500 projects implemented by Iraqi NGOs.

These projects contributed both to developing the capacity of NGOs and targeted civil society engagement in specific fields such as the Iraqi constitutional review process, conflict analyses, peacebuilding, civic participation, emergency response structures, human rights and elections.


2005 general electionSince 2007, UNOPS has worked with the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq’s Electoral Assistance Team and the United Nations Development Programme to build the capacity of the Independent High Electoral Commission for Iraq. With funds from the ITF, the aim has been to develop the commission’s policy and management structure and strengthen prioritized departments. These departments include but are not limited to warehouse management, graphic design, security and computer training.

Under the mandate of the mission and with funding from the ITF, UNOPS supported Iraqi NGOs and observer networks in the training and mobilization of national electoral observers for the Iraqi elections from 2005 to 2010, contributing to the credibility of the first ever democratic Iraqi elections. For the parliamentary elections in 2010, UNOPS supported the mobilization of over 29,000 observers.

UNOPS has now helped to build a resource pool of more than 50,000 accredited and experienced local observers, who are considered a fundamental asset to Iraq and the credibility of future elections.

Human rights

Human rights have long been a concern in Iraq. With European Union funding UNOPS and the mission’s Human Rights Office collaborate with more than 50 Iraqi civil society organizations, exchanging knowledge and experience to raise public awareness of basic human rights principles. Read the EU-UNOPS report 'Working for a better life for torture victims and prisoners in Iraq' here.


UNOPS is helping the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs create 3,450 short-term and 200 permanent employment opportunities in Basra, helping reduce poverty in the city.

UNOPS assesses market demand for vocational skills for the ministry and organizes relevant training in 22 centres around the country. This develops local capacity to reconstruct physical infrastructure and stimulates economic development.

Training through the National Committee for Employment (NCE) aimed at small- and medium-sized enterprises, together with national pro-business policies, have helped entrepreneurs establish 80 new enterprises and cooperatives.

Personnel management

The UNOPS Iraq office also provides personnel management services for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan, Syria and Yemen.

UNHCR is implementing different types of projects that require specialist and support staff as part of their programmes to respond to refugee needs in the region. UNOPS was chosen as the implementing partner by UNHCR to provide human resources management services and to contract staff under the UNOPS Individual Contractor Agreement (ICA).

Ensuring the credibility of Iraq’s first democratic elections. To watch in full screen mode, click on the "four arrow" icon at the bottom of the video. (Problems viewing? click here.)

Map of Projects

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UNOPS projects in Iraq as of June 2011, categorized by sector. Produced by the Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit. Click here to enlarge map.