After collecting developmental data and drafting the developmental reality in Erbil, the analysis of external and internal environment, including hexagon analysis of the political, economic, social, technical, environmental and legislative aspects, was implemented. The most important factors that are expected to affect the application of the development strategy are as follows:
The most important capabilities owned by the Governorate:
Erbil Governorate is distinguished for being capital of the Region, which reflects on many privileges; such as the proximity to the decision-making center, the possibility of facilitating government transactions and the high-level attraction to investors. On the other hand, such position burdens Erbil with esponsibilities and pressures to achieve the projects and raise the level of quality and efficiency of service.
Erbil was named as the capital of Arab tourism for the year 2014 and achieved the highest traffic travel ratio compared to Sulaimaniya airport across Erbil International Airport, thus had the largest share of capital invested in the region over the years from 2008 to 2012. If not for the lack of the annual government budget in the whole of Iraq in 2014, in addition to the war against ISIS since 2014 and till the preparation of this strategy in 2015, with a high price in terms of the number of martyrs in Peshmerga and the number of the displaced and refugees, Erbil would have managed to continue to achieve leaps in developing quality at all levels.
In addition to being the capital of the Region, the following points represent an important potential for the future:
The availability of natural resources of oil, gas, surface and groundwater, fertile lands and forests is one of the most important natural resources that characterize Erbil. The existence of productive quantities of minerals; such as iron and others are also expected inside Erbil’s mountain ranges. However, there is no geological or feasibility studies available now to show the qualities and quantities available and the possible ways to invest in them.
Due to the availability of water and plains, wheat and barley are considered strategic agricultural products in Erbil, but donum productivity, the quality of the crop and the level of global competitiveness are issues that still in need of studies and researches in terms of how to develop and improve the quality of production. In addition to wheat and barley crops, Erbil produces other corps; e.g. nuts, figs, grapes and pomegranates. In spite of the availability of government support for the agricultural sector, yet the absence of comprehensive agricultural studies on soil and water quality and quantity, economically viable agricultural varieties and the level of their market competitiveness are still non-available.
Human resources are the main pillar for achieving comprehensive and sustainable development, where the youth in Erbil (15-24 years of age) constitutes 23.5%5 of Erbil population, while economically active figures comprised 57.3% in 20146.
In addition to the local human resources in the labor force category, foreign labor forces are also concentrated in Erbil, brought by foreign investments based in the Governorate, in addition to numbers of displaced workers; either from Iraqi governorates or from the Kurds coming from Syria. Records in Erbil show the number of displaced families from the various governorates to be 96536 families, of 444561 displaced persons, till 17/08/20157, and the number of Syrian refugee families reached 43351 of 113307 refugees up to 15/07/20158.
Investments-attracting tourism natural ingredients:
In addition to the towering mountains and picturesque natural areas liable to be developed and become excellent tourist areas, Erbil features several historic archaeological sites, most notably Erbil Castle, which the UNESCO considered as a World Heritage because of its ancient history and tradition, as well as the green spaces that constitute virgin natural reserves, rich with diversity in vegetation and animal life, in addition to several religious and archaeological sites.
In addition to the natural ingredients available in Erbil, the governorate hosts the annual Erbil International Fair since the year 2004. Given the increasing number of participants every year, the Fair is deemed the most modern exhibition center in Iraq featuring a central location in Erbil in front of Sami Abdul Rahman Park and extends over a space of 19000 square meters of interior, air-conditioned galleries and 5000 square meters of outdoor exhibition space.
Erbil International Airport contributes to facilitating the movement of businessmen interested in investing in Erbil or even in the Region as a whole, in addition to being a helping factor in increasing tourist groups from outside the region; which is a field that still bears potential development and improvement in the future with respect to Erbil. The expansion of Erbil Airport contributed to increasing the number of flights and passengers and raised the airport’s capacity to 3 million passengers a year, in addition to increasing the capacity of shipping services. Movement to and from Erbil through Erbil International Airport witnessed a steady increase over the past years from less than 200,000 passengers in 2006 to nearly one million passengers a year in 2012.
Most important areas that need planning and development according to results of the analysis:
Sustainable management of natural resources and the environment:
Although the Kurdistan as a whole, including Erbil, is currently enjoying an abundance of surface and groundwater water, yet the current water consumption pattern and the absence of sustainable environmental management of water resources threatens such abundance and threatens to increase the pollution of groundwater levels in the long run. There is some weakness in the sewage system, where only 14.7% of the population mainly use the governmental sewerage network, while 82.3% use external covered channels9. Washing water (Gray Water) is being disposed of through external, mostly uncovered, channels on the sides of the streets, which creates potential environmental threats, especially in summer, in addition to the absence of heavy water treatment plants. On the other hand, water pricing process and the collection of revenues in a way that ensures covering production costs need a comprehensive study that takes into account disparity in the standard of living and services between rural and urban areas and water usages.
In another context, impacts of climatic changes associated to desertification in Erbil were observed during the past few years; such as the increase in terms of the severity and duration of dust storms and the high temperatures during summer, in addition to the growing proportion of pollution in the air, especially in the center of Erbil. Visibly noted is the steady increase over the recent years in the number of vehicles, the diversity of their forms and the widespread use of motorcycles. Consequently, there is a high proportion of harmful gases resulting from vehicle exhaust as well as the increasing traffic congestions, especially at peak hours on the main streets in the center of the governorate. On the other hand, there is an increasing pressure on the main streets between Erbil and the other governorates, particularly Turkey-Dohuk-Erbil line, which witnessed a doubling in the number of tanker vehicles carrying goods from Turkey to the Region over the past years.
On the other hand, the active construction movement in Erbil, especially during 2010 – 2014, and the accompanying air pollutants resulting from construction and drilling operations and other, increased the severity of air pollution and noise in the city.
As for land usage and productivity of agricultural land, Erbil has prepared a basic design for the city that indicates the areas for urban expansion and determines land usages thoughtfully. In addition, the governorate has prepared a map of soil types in Erbil that can serve as a basis for a deeper study on agricultural land use in the future. Erbil depends on the basic design of Erbil’s center in determining the urban expansion and road projects. In addition to the basic design, the Industrial City project will organize the investment process in various industries outside the residential areas and within the framework of an infrastructure supportive to industrial investments.
Despite the great effort exerted for organizing the city, there is still a need to prepare a holistic study on agricultural production and uses of farmlands. In addition, a geological survey targeting the mountain areas rich with natural resources is needed in order to determine the future framework for investing in them as successfully and sustainably as possible. However, the basic design needs to expand to gradually include the other areas and districts in Erbil, enhance the monitoring, measurement and accurate documentation of environmental safety indicators, implement sustainable environmental management projects that deal with sewage and uses of alternative energy, raising awareness and efficiency with respect to using such resources.
Disparities in Governmental services in the center and the outskirts:
Despite of the developmental progress taking place in the center of Erbil, districts and sub-districts are still unequal to the center in terms of services’ coverage and other several developmental aspects; e.g. the level of education, poverty rate, economic participation, etc. Since Erbil is the Region capital, where the center of the Governorate is the center of the Region and the seat of international missions, bodies and organizations, the contrast between the center and the outskirts is clear.
For example, although the coverage at the governorate level of government water network services is 86.5%, yet it varies between 95% in Erbil, Dashti Hawler and Mirga Sur, compared to less than 80% in Khabat, in addition to varied periods of supply and interruptions. Per capita share of potable water also varies between the center and the outskirts; while it is 250 liters/day in Erbil, the average is 200 liters/day in the outskirts10.
In terms of electricity, there is a need to develop the services in this field in several aspect. First, productivity should be raised in order to raise the rate and duration of coverage reaching to continued and uninterrupted distribution for all areas, particularly for the outskirts and remote villages. On the other hand, overall losses of electricity should be reduced by organizing consumption, activating control over abuses and improving the quality of extensions used to reduce technical losses. Only 6.1% of the population rely on national electricity solely, while the majority of the population (72.7%) rely on two sources together; the national network and generators11. A variation is expected in the level of coverage and the period of coverage between the center and the outskirts.
With regard to solid waste collection and disposal services, while 80% of Erbil population in general have access to this service, almost one-third of the population in Merga Sur and Choman dispose waste on their own by throwing, burning or burying them in open areas12.
In the area of public health services; governmental health centers and hospitals, the variation is manifested in the difficulty of accessing service centers due to the lack of public transportation, which is an common obstacle throughout Erbil. However, it is expected that this difficulty is much more intense in the outskirts. In addition, quality of medical services provided varies between the center and the outskirts, while foreign investments are piling up in the health sector; clinics and specialized ophthalmic, dentistry and orthopedic hospitals in the center, the remote outskirts suffer from the lack of diversity, specialization and abundance.
Establishment of a public and integrated network of fast and efficient means of transportation in the capital is one of the most important factors of encouragement to development and investment. If available, such network would alleviate air pollution caused by private means of transportation and ease the pressure on traffic jams, which are expected to experience a steady increase in Erbil.
The basic design of Erbil’s center (Erbil Master Plan), released in 2013, includes a public transport network that runs from the vicinity of the castle in the city center to the surrounding areas in a circular manner. The rapid bus project is one of the approved strategic projects, yet non-availability of budget in 2014 and assigning whatever available allocations of the budget of 2015 to support the war against ISIS, cover the basic operating expenses, and Erbil’s previous obligations towards some continuing credit projects, all have caused the project to be delayed to a later period.
Erbil shall remain in need to develop the public transportation system even after the implementation of the rapid bus project, which is not expected to be sufficient to cover the need in light of the city’s extension and expansion, the increasing interest in investing in the Region and establishing foreign companies and investments in Erbil.
Local Statistical Databases:
One of the most important determinants and difficulties that faced preparation of this plan is the lack of updated and accurate data for developmental indicators at Erbil’s level. When available, data were fragmented distributed among a large number of agencies and departments. Erbil Statistics Directorate participates in the preparation of socio-economic surveys periodically; e.g. household and social surveys headed and governed by Region’s Department of Statistics. These surveys are based on random representative samples from the different governorates in the Region. The survey process consumes considerable time and human effort, so that once the results are completed and announced, they become within a period of two years, at least, between the implementation of the surveys and announcing the results. Additionally, there is a lack in developmental indicators since there is no single entity that has a measurement to all indicators, which can be available in Erbil in collaboration with the Directorate of Statistics to facilitate a planning process based on facts and figures that reflect the value of developmental indicators annually.
On the other hand, despite the availability of a number of studies by university students, these studies are focused on specific areas and issues. These studies can be useful for realizing the facts but vary in terms of quality and cannot be adopted as a basis for planning the governorate, as they are not approved nor by the Ministry of Planning or the Region Erbil Directorate of Statistics. Also, there is a lack of public and private research centers concerned with undertaking developmental studies and research that contribute to proper planning.
Crisis Management and Raising Readiness to Emergencies:
Security and economic crisis during 2013 and 2014, implications of which extended to 2015 as well, proved the importance of upgrading the readiness for crisis management at the level of the Region and the governorate as well.
Development of an effective early warning system requires multiple time phases that extend to dozens of years. However, early warning systems requires active developmental databases based on indicators that can be quickly and accurately measured. Establishing such system can be executed over the next three years, based mainly on the development of an integrated system of indicators; political, security, economic, environmental and community, sensitive to changes in the value of indicators and analyze them after the availability of their basic values.
Building the system is associated with the other requirements including processing and technological automation, as well as training and requalification of the existing staff.
Efficiency of Government Services:
There is a need to reduce administrative bureaucracy, improve efficiency of public services and strengthen the regulatory system relevant to priority issues identified in the Strategic Development Plan 2016-2018.
The development of government services’ management has more than one dimension, including:
1- Administrative procedures:
Currently, there is no measurement for a number of important indicators related to the efficiency and effectiveness of government services; such as the time necessary to deliver the service, etc. Also, there is no scheme for administrative procedures provided by the governorate and its affiliated local districts, to enable determining the number of steps necessary to conduct and finalize every administrative transaction by the citizen or beneficiary in general.
2- Number and competencies of available staff:
There is a kind of imbalance in the distribution of the government staff volume in governmental institutions in the governorate. When some institutions suffer from limited resources in certain disciplines, other institutions can be described as facing inflation.
In terms of competencies, there is also a wide disparity among government staff and there is a need for implementing a requalification program and raising the capacities in the long run, with a view to improve the capacities of government staff in various fields; administrative, technical and service delivery.
3- Government services automation:
Nowadays, e-government is one of the important improvements that would increase transparency, improve the performance efficiency and raise the confidence and trust between the people (services’ recipient) and the government. Erbil is looking forward in the next phase to establish and apply the principles of e-government.
4- Financial and administrative control and monitoring:
Control and transparent follow-up are of the most important elements of good governance. At present, there are many areas to improve the control and follow-up in Erbil, including connecting the control and follow-up with the governorate strategic indicators and vision indicators of the Region to be able to better monitor and measure the achievement quantitatively and qualitatively. Achieving such goal requires establishing and developing an integrated system for monitoring and evaluation in Erbil, with globally supported systematic mechanisms.
Currently, there is no accurate measurement of the efficiency of service delivery; such as the time required to deliver all government services, the number of documents to be filled out by the auditor, the number of staff involved in delivering the service and the time spent by employees in such delivery. To improve government services and their management method, the current situation should be measured first, then gaps should identifying, and finally the required improvements should be structured and implemented. Such steps fall within the e-government methodology.
Scientific research, innovation and women participation:
Scientific research, innovation and women participation are among the important issues of development. However, they are not top priorities of development in Erbil for the next three years due to the large number of urgent priority issues that threaten the sustainability of development in Erbil; e.g. growing environmental pollution, sanitation, water, and transportation. Another area of urgent priority in Erbil is accommodating basic needs of the increasing number of displaced persons and refugees to the governorate as a result of the war in Syria and ISIS terrorist attacks in Iraq. Despite all the above-mentioned priority areas, it is important not to exclude scientific research and innovation and promote women participation in the development process, among areas for improvement in the future, modest steps can be taken to this effect over the coming years. Weak innovation and scientific research is primarily due to the quality and system of education, which needs to be developed at the level of the Region as a whole.
On the other hand, the level of women empowerment and participation in various areas of development are still limited and below the desired level. Females’ academic achievement levels in Erbil vary from one geographic area to another and between urban and rural areas. As well, women participation in economic activities and decision-making centers varies and is still below the required level.
Security, public transportation and sanitation are considered priority service sectors in the next phase. Besides, the provision of investment requirements of infrastructure, trained local workforce and financial services are development priorities to enable remedy of the economic and developmental setback that affected the Region as a whole during 2013-2015.
“Erbil is an economically prosperous capital with its resources; enjoys sustainable development; and a regional commercial center that encourages investments and incubates creativity and innovation; and attains the well-being of its society with advanced infrastructure aligned with international standards; and maintains its Kurdish culture and heritage”.
Erbil endeavors to provide development requirements for its citizens, investors and visitors, through offering safety, security and government services characterized by accuracy and speed, provided by qualified local staff in alignment with the principles of fairness and transparency to achieve economic prosperity and sustainable development.
Erbil’s Strategic Development Plan includes six Strategic Goals that respond to the Governorate development needs, on the one hand, and the goals of the Region’s strategic vision 2020, as follows: