Iraq’s Water Ministry has invited companies to submit bids for the contract to carry out studies and designs for a water desalination project.

The work will involve preparing technical, economic and environmental impact studies of the main outfall drain water facilities in the governorates of Salah-Addin and Basra, and provide designs for proposed new facilities that will feature in Iraq’s 2012 investment plan.

Firms have until 25 October to submit bids for the tender.

The project is part of several initiatives from the water ministry to improve the availability of water in Iraq, which is a crucial issue for the country.

In 1995, the World Health Organisation reported that 96 per cent of urban areas and 48 per cent of the country’s rural population had access to safe water supplies. By 2005, these dropped to 73 per cent and 43 per cent respectively, after years of sanctions and the bombing of key utility infrastructure during the 1990s and the 2003 conflict.

A 2011 survey commissioned by the Planning Ministry found that just 72 per cent of Iraqis living in urban households had access to the public water network, while 47 per cent of rural households were connected.