BAGHDAD -- Iraqis are still suffering from power shortages countrywide -- receiving less than four hours of electricity daily -- despite the government's recent announcement that more money would be spent on this sector.
"The government has forgotten about essential services like water and power," said Farah Mustany, a mother of four in Baghdad. "We are thirsty for power because we are suffering and our children were suffering as we don't have basic facilities."
This summer has been the worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003. Shortages in power supplies have resulted in millions of residents being forced to sleep outside because there is not enough power to run air conditioners.
"The bad quality of materials during Saddam's regime and the sabotage caused by inhumane insurgents have delayed progress and made more Iraqis suffer in temperatures of 60 degrees centigrade," Zacarias Abdul Satar, a senior official on the Ministry of Electricity, said.
Abdul Satar explained that an estimated $22 billion was required to repair and improve the electricity supply in the country and keep it working 24 hours daily.
"We believe that we can reach to 18,000 megawatts of energy in the year of 2010 which is approximately double of what is being produced now -- which is 7,000 megawatts," he said.
Many districts of the capital have received threats from insurgents to stop the using the big neighborhood generators.
In the Sunni districts of Adhamiya, Zeiuna and Baghdad Ijidida, many generators have been attacked by insurgents who used rockets to destroy the machines.
On August 26, protests took place on the streets of Baghdad, after outspoken Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on followers to demonstrate against the lack of power and water supplies and against the new draft of the constitution, in which they say federalism should not be specified.
Doctors in the Iraqi capital have complained of the increase in cases of dehydration and diarrhea among children and the elderly, caused by the constant heat inside homes without cooling systems.
"We have at least 10 cases of dehydration caused by the summer season every day in our hospital. During the last regime it was rare, but now it has become a daily occurrence here," Dr Mustafa Rawi, at Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital, said.
The insurgency also shut down oil exports on August 22, when power supplies were cut leading to darkness in many areas of the capital and southern parts of the country, Oil Ministry officials said.
Abdul Satar also noted that if the insurgency does not stop within the coming month, the capital could suffer a total power collapse of 24 hours daily.
The situation has been causing frustration for millions of Iraqis who continue to suffer.
"I hope that I can sleep with comfort at least one day in my life. Our neighborhood generator has been attacked by insurgents and my two children are sick from dehydration," Baghdad resident Ali Kareem, said.
[Integrated Regional Information Networks is a project the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.]
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