The Commander’s Emergency Response Program assists Iraqi citizens by supporting and developing local programs and institutions. This much-needed financial support provides resources to deserving organizations or localities to help them get back on their feet.
CERP funds are appropriated through the Department of Defense budget and, in this case. Are allocated through the Coalition Forces Land Component Combatant Command to each major command sector of operations. Because the jurisdiction of the Multi-National Security Transition Command. Iraq covers all areas of operation, projects are identified and developed by MNSTC-I in communities all over Iraq.
Making A difference In Iraq
U.S. Army Capt. Tom Gillis, who oversees the CERP projects for the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team, believes this is an excellent way to touch Iraqi communities in a positive way. “It clearly is a means through which to improve the Coalition-Iraqi relationship in a meaningful and lasting fashion,” said Gillis.
The projects must not exceed $500,000 and must demonstrate an important public need. To date, 44 projects have been completed with 58 more in progress or in the process of being submitted. More than $17 million has been spent or allocated by CERP for these important, community enhancements.
In fact, the program has been so successful that Iraqi Interim Government officials have agreed to fund and administer 17 projects previously slated for funding by CERP. These projects, totaling $5.9 million, include drainage improvements, irrigation, school renovations, and the construction of a fine arts institute.
The following three projects highlighted by Gillis demonstrate the variety of projects being developed.
In Taji, four villages are being touched by a program to provide 12 school buses and more than 9,000 school uniforms. As the Ministry of Education is enforcing uniform standards for all female students in primary and intermediate grade levels, now many less fortunate Iraqi girls will be able to attend school.
According to U.S. Army Col. Richard Hatch, MNSTC-I SJA, “This is one the best uses of CERP money I have seen yet.” Twenty schools will benefit from the $429,000 program. The buses and uniforms will be procured through local vendors. Planners expect delivery by the end of February.
In An Numaniyah, the Haji Jalal Women’s & Pediatric Hospital will receive funding for clinic supplies including: ultrasound equipment, a centrifuge, refrigerators, an incubator, oroscopes, ophthalmoscopes, stethoscopes, sphygmomanometers, nebulizers, various monitors and other useful medical equipment. The $176,000 project is underway.
In Al Kasik, nine important projects are in the works including renovating the village school, constructing a road from the village to Temarat. Constructing an elementary school, building four clinics, repairing the village well, stringing a power line and building a water factory, a soccer field, and a park for children.