LADP supported the development of Governorate Urban Strategies (GUS) for 9 pilot Governorates. The proposed GUS are essentially strategies for diversified economic growth and socio-economic inclusion using urban development solutions. They provide a substantial and valuable step forward from the existing Governorate Structure Plans – offering a contemporary multi-sectoral and integrated approach, grounded in analysis of development indicators and evidence-based spatial considerations dictated by the socio-economic and geographical characteristics of each governorate, including their post-conflict reconstruction needs. The GUS provide an instrument to align urban planning with the realities on the ground and to make it sustainable as well as prone to investment.

GUS present a geographic scale between the national and the local levels. Therefore, GUS were developed across administrative boundaries in 3 clusters: (1) Southern (Basra, Missan, Muthanna, Thi-Qar), (2) Pilgrimage (Kerbala, Najaf), and (3) Central (Babil, Diwaniah, Wassit) – to emphasise the need for close coordination between provincial plans in order to address regional inequalities, and to guide more sustainable patterns of urban growth in Iraq.

The NUS framework and GUS were developed using CBSP approach, in an integrated top-down-bottom-up process, involving numerous technical meetings and discussions with staff from the Ministry of Planning (MoP), Ministry of Municipalities (MoCHMPW) and local Directorates in each Governorate. Dialogue and coordination between counterparts took place through intensive consultations by cluster, and through the Online Information Platform initiated under LADP.

As a starting point for the drafting of GUS, in early-2017 counterparts received copy of 9 Governorates Structure Plans Reviews. The LADP/UN-Habitat team engaged the counterparts in spatial analysis of urban issues, economic data and development indicators at governorate and district level – to identify and address the conditions prevailing in each governorate through a multi-dimensional perspective. The intensive GUS workshops in 2017 focused on strategies to address current development imbalance between cities, secondary towns and rural areas, and to enhance potentials along development corridors (engaging 37 officials in the Southern, 33 in the Pilgrimage, and 35 in the Central cluster workshops respectively).

The elaborated GUS reflect the need to create opportunities for sustainable income, to empower and build human capital, and to establish an effective social safety net. They support the notion of ‘thinking strategically but acting locally’. To address development challenges and deprivation at the district level, they recommend to leverage existing governorate-specific prospects and opportunities to stimulate sustainable socio-economic growth, within integrated networks of urban poles and nodes, along identified development corridors as per NUS.

The final GUS report (Sept 2018) incorporates extensive feedback from MoP. In Nov 2018, MoP included the GUS report as an official Annex to NDP 2018-2022. The GUS will be used in conjunction with the elaborated NUS.