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KHALIDYAH, Iraq (August 24, 2008) – Travis Pruitt, a city management advisor with the embedded provincial reconstruction team from Ramadi, discusses potential progress in governance and future projects to improve essential services and foster economic development, Aug. 24. This was the area’s director general’s opportunity to disclose their respective field’s needs for fiscal year 2009’s budget. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Influential coalition representative meets in Khalidyah

24 Aug 2008 | Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

KHALIDYAH, Iraq (August 24, 2008) – Iraq is steadily progressing forward with stronger and more stable provincial and local governments. These governments provide the essential services, which serve as the bedrock of peace and stability throughout Iraq.

The city’s Director Generals and the mayor of Khalidyah, Iraq, met with influential Coalition representatives to discuss progress in governance and future projects to improve essential services and foster economic development, Aug. 24.

 Khalidyah’s Director Generals were able to voice their concerns to Travis Pruitt, a city management advisor with the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (ePRT) from Ramadi. This was their opportunity to disclose their respective field’s needs for fiscal year 2009’s budget. The Iraqi government is in the process of writing a new budget plan and Pruitt says it is crucial that every community’s requests are included in the proposal.

 “This was an opportunity to evaluate the situation of the area and [see] what’s economically important,” explained Pruitt. “Iraqis must expand their capacity for developing a sustainable economic system.”

 A sustainable system includes initiatives in water treatment, irrigation, agriculture, electricity, fuel and a modern sewage system. Khalidyah has taken the first steps toward progress with multiple clean-up and construction projects supported by Marines with Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1. Economic growth is clearly underway, visible in the throng of shoppers and patrons lining the streets each day, said Pruitt.

 Khalidyah has developed “an industry that will provide a sustainable job base for locals,” commented Pruitt and although the successes Khalidyah is having are at the local level, they do not go unnoticed. The goal of Pruitt and the ePRT is to take these successes and “tie it into the higher echelons of the Iraqi government to strengthen the individual regions economy.”

 To date, Khalidyah has been able to formulate its needs and sustain essential services in an area with great economic potential. Pruitt explained that the citizens have the desired initiative to progress forward.

 “There are a lot of intelligent Iraqis here educated in their fields,” said Pruitt. “We are here to supplement our expertise and point Iraqis in the right direction.”

 This was not a meeting to deal with specific issues and projects of the area, but rather a chance for an over all assessment of the area and its needs.

 “Based on my first assessment, Iraqis need assistance with a formulized plan for sustainment for the area,” explained Pruitt.

Iraqis take the lead role when defining strategy and the overall direction of the city, while Pruitt and the PRT offer knowledge when needed.

Some concerns weighed more heavily on Pruitt’s mind than others. He noted that street repair, job security, water availability and a modern sewage system are a must for the city. Trash and waste disposal has been an ongoing issue in the area. Though a disposal process is in place, Pruitt said it is not what we would equate to a modern system. With regards to water distribution, Pruitt explained that in an agriculture driven economy the ability to efficiently move water is a high valued concern of the reconstruction team.

 After the meeting, guests joined the mayor for an evening meal and discussed current government issues. The ePRT offers city management training to local community leaders, training which the mayor has already received. Pruitt discussed offering the same training to the mayor’s staff.

 Pruitt said he is leaving with the knowledge that Khalidyah has the potential to make great progress. He stressed that ideally, all services would fall under a “self contained Iraqi program.”