Kareem Abed Zair
AlterNet
August 29, 2008

Baghdad’s nearly six million people have access to half their needs of drinking water, said Sadeq al-Shammari head of Baghdad’s Water Authority.

Shammari said practically more than three million people in Baghdad have no access to running water.

The shortage comes amid soaring temperatures which at this time of the year may brush 50 degrees centigrade.

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has criticized the Iraqi authorities for spending too little on public amenities at a time government coffers are brimming with hard cash from oil sales.

“They (the government) have the resources but they are slow in investing them,” said a UNICEF official who did not want his name be revealed.

Shammari described the shortage as critical, saying that conditions of Baghdad’s sewage system and heavy water treatment plants were even worse.

“A few-minute interruption in power supply causes at least a three-hour interruption in drinking water,” said Shammari.

Public amenities like water facilities, sewage systems and hospitals are not supposed to be covered by outages which may continue for up to 20 hours in Baghdad.

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