Decades of trouble have left Iraq's infrastructure in a state of disrepair. Last year, the World Bank calculated that it would cost $35 billion over the next four years to fix Iraq's roads, power, and water supply. The cost of restoring the country's electric grid is estimated at $13 billion alone.
Reconstruction, however, has been slow. More than a year into the rebuilding effort, officials admit that less than 140 of the 2,300 scheduled construction projects are up and running. American officials promised 50,000 Iraqis would find work at construction sites before last month's formal transfer of power. However, less than 20,000 were on the job by mid-July.
While meeting deadlines and fulfilling promises has been a challenge, even more alarming has been the outbreak of violence. Frequent bombings and shootings have disrupted work. In some cases, violence has forced foreign contractors to abandon their jobs.
Progress Is Slow
Last year, the U.S. pledged $18.4 billion to rebuild Iraq, but only a small portion of that money$333 millionhas been spent. Many of the projects are still in the planning stages.
More than a year after Saddam Hussein's government was toppled, electrical service has not improved for most Iraqis. In many parts of the country, residents have electricity for just eight hours a day. The United Nations predicts it could be four or five years before 90 percent of the population has a regular supply of electricity.
While progress has been slow in many sectors, the fruits of hard work and determination can be seen in Iraq's educational system. During and after the war, more than 3,000 schools were looted, destroyed, or torched in southern and central Iraq. In Baghdad, 60 endured bomb damage.
Since then, 2,500 schools have been restored, according to the Coalition Provisional Authority. School attendance climbed to more than 95 percent during this year's national exam week, up from 60 percent immediately after the war.
Despite continued attacks by insurgents, workers like David J. Nash remain determined to rebuild Iraq.
"Some of the power plants may get blown up," says Nash, a retired Rear Admiral who directs the American building program. "But we're not going to stop."