Unemployment and underemployment figures in Iraq stand somewhere between 50 and 60 percent, creating an economic crisis, all too common in post-conflict zones. These people’s needs are often overlooked because of ongoing unrest and fierce competition for scarce resources throughout the country. To alleviate this problem, systematic and sustained attention to this specific group, their families, and their communities is required. IOM Iraq staff strives to assist the unemployed and underemployed; assistance programs, coordinated between three different departments, help to immediately improve quality of life, but more importantly, institute lasting employment structures that will thrive long after the direct IOM presence in these communities has gone. IOM Iraq’s Programme for Human Security and Stabilization, Community Assistance Projects, and Business Development Services Department focus on aiding the unemployed and underemployed and their communities, and have seen many great successes over the years of operation. Below is a more specific breakdown of their respective operations in regards to establishing sustainable livelihoods across Iraq:
Community Revitalisation Programme
The Community Revitalisation Programme (CRP) works closely with the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) to develop a wide-ranging set of grassroots economic development programmes, with a focus on small business development. CRP supports the efforts of Iraqis to rebuild their local economies and encourages locally focused, broad-based economic development targeting unemployed and underemployed community members, as well as returnees in need of work. As small businesses are the backbone of any economy, CRP assists small businesses in Iraq in developing their markets, expanding their workforce through business and skills training for employees, and purchasing equipment to enable businesses to offer a greater number of quality services to their customers. CRP is currently operating in the 13 governorates of Anbar, Babylon, Baghdad, Basrah, Dahuk, Diyala, Erbil, Kirkuk, Missan, Ninewa, Qadissiya, Sulaymaniyah and Wassit, with the support from the governments of Germany and the United States. IOM Iraq expects CRP activities to soon become a nationwide initiative. CRP provides tools, materials and skills to the people of Iraq, and thus enables them to create economic opportunities for themselves and their families, rather than continuing cycles of dependence on aid. Iraqis have begun to rebuild their communities, their society and their country, and CRP strives every day to assist them in these efforts.
Assistance to Female-Headed Households
In late 2009, IOM Iraq began the implementation of a pilot project for psychosocial, legal and livelihood support to the most vulnerable internally displaced and returnee female-headed households in Baghdad, Diyala and Missan. The project provides vulnerable IDP and returnee female-headed households (FHHs) and other vulnerable women from host communities with psychosocial, legal and health support as a means of prevention and protection from violence as well as social and economic exclusion. In addition, IOM Iraq links these families to services that provide information and direct assistance in the areas of shelter and income-generation opportunities. In addition to direct targeted assistance provided to FHHs and their dependents, IOM Iraq provides technical support to community-based organizations. This cooperation aims at enhancing community-based organizations' capacity to address specific issues related to women at risk, including support for FHHs in the future.
Private Sector Development
IOM Iraq is an implementing partner with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in the 'Private Sector Development Programme' (PSDP-I), an 18-month project (September 2010- March 2012) focused on enhancing 'Business Development Services' (BDS) in three governorates of Iraq – Anbar, Basra, and Erbil. The primary objective of the partnership is to build the capacities of local private and semi/private business development service providers and to ensure that local entrepreneurs, unemployed and other marginalized groups have access to BDS.