Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development

The Steering Committee of the programme Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development held its first annual meeting in Erbil, on 17 April 2019. The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) with €47.5 million over 4 years, and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The Steering Committee endorsed the programme’s workplan, identifying key priority projects to be implemented in nine Governorates: Anbar, Basra, Duhok, Erbil, Missan, Ninewah, Salah al-Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Thi Qar. The projects derived from the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans, developed under the flagship Local Area Development Programme (LADP II) that concluded in mid 2018.

The programme revolves around supporting the decentralization of powers from central to local authorities, including through the development of institutional capacities, the optimization of revenue generation systems, peer-to-peer partnerships with EU local authorities, and the empowerment of civil society to advocate for local development causes.

Minister of Planning at the Federal Government of Iraq, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, said: “Today, we endorsed a robust workplan addressing local priorities, such as decentralization, job creation and public services, in areas where needed most. With this endorsement, we renew our commitment to work closely with our strategic partners towards making sustainable, inclusive local development a reality.”

Minister of Planning at the Kurdistan Regional Government, Dr. Ali Sindi, noted: “Our past joint efforts under the EU-funded LADP II produced the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans. We are glad to be building upon this achievement, with the support of UNDP, to move to the next level of executing sustainable energy, environmental action and climate change adaptation initiatives.”

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Ramon Blecua, said:

The European Union continues to show its commitment in supporting local development in Iraq. The Steering Committee meeting held today, was a great opportunity to agree all together on concrete actions to be implemented at local level in the next months.

“I am happy to see this new programme in full implementation mode and look forward to its quick results, so to deliver services and livelihoods opportunities and make a difference in daily life of the Iraqi population.

Officer-in-Charge of UNDP Iraq, Mr. Vakhtang Svanidze, said:

“Under this EU-funded programme, we will do our utmost to help Iraqis in their pursuit of effective local governance for improved living conditions to all, especially the most vulnerable. This is of paramount importance to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Iraq in the long run.”

Head of UNDP Office in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KR-I), Ms. Isabela Uribe, reiterated:

“I am more than glad that we are going local with practical solutions touching people’ s daily life. Thanks to the generosity of the EU, with ample cooperation of the federal and local authorities and the hard work of UNDP and UN-Habitat, an inclusive, transparent and cutting edge approach to local development is going to place citizens in the driving seat of a new social agenda.”

Under the new programme, UN-Habitat will contribute to the stability and socio-economic development of Iraq by improving living conditions and enhancing service delivery at the local level, through urban recovery investments and job opportunities in conflict-affected areas, and revenue generation in five governorates.

Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, a.i., Ms. Yuko Otsuki , stated that “immediate interventions will prioritize urban recovery activities, such as the rehabilitation of damaged housing and schools, repairs to secondary infrastructure through job creation and skill enhancement, and involving youth in the redesign and recovery of public spaces.”

A decision-making body, the Steering Committee is comprised of Iraq’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Ali Sindi, as well as the Governors of the aforementioned Governorates where the programme will be active. Members also include UNDP and UN-Habitat as implementing partners, along with the EU Head of Delegation and Delegation Cooperation Section as donor representatives.

Governorate representatives signed the Charter of Principles that sets out an agreed upon framework between each Governorate, UNDP and UN-Habitat. The framework defines roles and responsibilities and will govern the implementation of the programme.

The programme fact sheet can be downloaded through this link: https://bit.ly/2Wlw17e.

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has welcomed an additional contribution of USD 5.4 million from the Government of Japan to support reconstruction and peacebuilding in Iraq through the rehabilitation of war-damaged houses and construction of low-cost housing units in key liberated cities.

More than one year from the declaration of the military victory over so-called ISIL in 2017, more than 1.7 million people are still displaced in Iraq. The rehabilitation of severely damaged structures and rebuilding of fully destroyed houses are extremely costly and require robust engineering expertise. IDPs with their severely damaged or fully destroyed homes are still in dire need of support.

Through the additional funding UN-Habitat will be able to continue its community-based interventions and the rehabilitation of “severely damaged” houses and the construction of low-cost housing units to accommodate vulnerable returnees whose houses are “destroyed.”

Returnees and members of affected communities will be trained on skills required for the works and recruited under the project to support rebuilding their livelihoods. Approximately 2,500 returnees are expected to benefit from this project, and priorities will be given to vulnerable households including female-headed households, those with elderly, infants and children under age 6, or physically impaired.

His Excellency Mr. Naofumi Hashimoto, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Iraq said:

“Japan has recently decided a new assistance package for Iraq amounting to US$ 63 million, including this project as a contribution to the housing sector. With this package, the total amount of Japan’s assistance to the people affected by the crisis reaches US$ 500 million.”

UN-Habitat is grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for their continuous generous support which allows integration of the New Urban Agenda and physical interventions for post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding.

The development of sites for low-cost housing units designed to accommodate vulnerable displaced people who lost their homes is one of the pillars of the “Housing Reconstruction Strategy” recently developed by the Government of Iraq and UN-Habitat to enhance and accelerate housing reconstruction and development in conflict-affected areas.

With a contribution of approximately $50 million since 2015, the Government of Japan has been a vital partner to UN-Habitat’s Iraq Programme.

(Source: UN)

EU-funded programme launched in Iraq to support recovery and stability through local development

The European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) continue to work together to help the people of Iraq in their pursuit of recovery and stability.

On 28 March 2019, representatives of federal and local authorities, community leaders, non-governmental organizations, businesses, academia, as well as implementing partners, gathered in the city of Basra, South of Iraq, to launch a new programme.

With EU funding of €47.5 million over 4 years, the programme aims at supporting the implementation of local priority actions, derived from the Provincial Development Plans and the Sustainable Energy Action Plans developed under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP II), that address the top priorities of each governorate and pilot ways to translate policy into practice.

In addition, supporting the decentralization of powers from central to local authorities, including through the development of institutional capacities, the optimization of revenue generation systems, peer-to-peer partnerships with EU local authorities, the empowerment of civil society to advocate for local development causes, mobilization of additional resources, and improvement of donor coordination will be part of the activities.

Minister of Planning at the Federal Government of Iraq, Dr. Nouri Al Dulaimi, said:

“Iraqi communities are eager to recover after years of conflict and instability. And, we are doing our utmost to address their needs. Development at the local level is a step in the right direction. We are grateful that the EU, UNDP and UN-Habitat stand right by us in this difficult time.”

Governor of Basra, Mr. Asaad Al Eidani, stated:

“The people of Basra and other governorates across our country have rightful demands. They need adequate public services, plenty of jobs, and all the help they can get to build a better life for them and their children. We are committed to working closely with our government, local communities, and partners to maximize the impact of this new EU-funded programme and may be replicate with our own funds.”

Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Ambassador Ramon Blecua, said:

“The European Union is strongly committed to assist the Government of Iraq in its efforts to shape a more inclusive and accountable local development. This new EU-funded program will ensure better services and livelihoods opportunities for the Iraqi population, responding to the urgent needs affecting Basra and other Governorates across the country.”

Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Marta Ruedas, reiterated:

“Creating job opportunities, improving living conditions, upgrading public services, and integrating eco-friendly practices are some of our top priorities when it comes to local development in Iraq. Women and youth are an integral part in this process. The EU support represents a lifeline for communities struggling to make ends meet, as well as to promote good governance at the local level.”

Head of UN-Habitat Iraq, a.i., Ms. Yuko Otsuki, thanked the European Union for its generous contribution to the urban recovery in Iraq, and stated:

“UN-Habitat will implement priority urban recovery activities, such as the rehabilitation of housing, schools, and public spaces, repairs to secondary infrastructure, job creation, skill enhancement, and revenue generation.”

Ms. Otsuki assured that UN-Habitat is committed to continue working, to promote recovery, resilience and reconstruction in Iraq.

The programme will help the Government of Iraq to strengthen the efficiency of the country’s institutions and renew the social contract between citizens and the state. It revolves around improving the ability of selected governorates to efficiently manage local government and public services. Economic growth and job creation are prioritized, with a focus on green projects involving youth and women, in addition to enhancing the living conditions of returnees and in conflict affected areas.

Building upon the momentum created by the recently concluded LADP II, the programme will be implemented in the following nine Governorates: Anbar, Basra, Duhok, Erbil, Missan, Ninewah, Salah al-Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Thi Qar.

(Source: UN)

Iraq’s Ministry of Planning and the Council of Ministers Secretariat, together with UN-Habitat, publicly launched the National Platform for Reconstruction and Development.

For more than one year, UN-Habitat has been working very closely with the Ministry of Planning to develop and finalize the Platform, with generous funding support from the Iraq UNDAF Trust Fund, which is a multi-donor trust fund.

The Platform provides up-to-date key information on reconstruction and development projects. It is a web-based GIS data system that contains analytical reports, statistical data for projects, as well as interactive maps of projects locations. By sharing project information, the Platform will enable relevant actors to avoid duplication and coordinate for better planning.

Now accessible to public and with interactive window, the Platform will also allow the Government of Iraq to receive feedback from its citizens on the reconstruction and development projects, helping to build trust between the Government and people.

H.E. Dr. Mahdi Al-Allaq, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, stated that “the Platform will advance delivery of the commitments made at the Kuwait International Conference for Reconstruction of Iraq”.

H.E. Dr. Noori Al-Dulaimi, Minister of Planning, commented that “through the Platform, projects will be managed in a transparent manner and monitored by the international community”.

Ms. Marta Ruedas, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, stated that the Platform provides an overview of the projects implemented, and enables evidence-based planning and decision making.

The Data Platform is accessible at: https://mnpcd.gov.iq/

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Finger pressing a new career start button, from Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

UN-Habitat provided legal assistance to 1,015 vulnerable households in Mosul to address their housing, land and property rights claims

UN-Habitat in collaboration with its implementing partner, the local NGO Mercy Hands for Humanitarian Aid, concluded the activities funded by the 2017 Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund to address housing, land and property rights (HLP) of vulnerable people in Mosul.

Under this project, UN-Habitat assessed ten neighbourhoods in East Mosul where many displaced persons from the west of the city have settled. The surveys covered 3,083 houses, reaching a total of 19,261 individuals, and aimed to identify HLP incidents and needs of vulnerable households in East Mosul.

Accordingly, 61% of the surveyed households reported that their house was partially or fully destroyed, while more than 33% had no legal occupancy/ownership documents linked to their current residence.

As such, UN-Habitat undertook an information dissemination and awareness raising campaign related to households’ HLP rights and available redress mechanisms through the distribution of leaflets, as well as awareness raising sessions with beneficiaries seeking information on HLP.

Among those, seven sessions were conducted exclusively for females to provide them with a safe and comfortable space to raise their issues and concerns. Mahdia Hamed Ismail, highlighted how she benefited from the help:

“My house was flattened in East Mosul by the war. We were sitting on the floor and we still are as we neither filed nor received any compensation. UN-Habitat’s legal partners visited my house, took my information, helped me fill in the compensation application, and filed the claim in court on my behalf. I would like to thank them for keeping us in mind, and for making the effort to support us.”

As a result of the strong commitment and work ethic of the community representatives (Mukhtars), as well as other local authorities, including the Mosul court, the project was able to provide legal assistance on lease and ownership issues to 1,015 vulnerable families, 29% of which were female-headed households.

The majority of the households who have been impacted by the previous hostilities are in need of support with filing their claims at court. HLP issues are a major challenge for returnees and households in areas previously controlled by ISIL, and can only be solved by legal representation in courts, and/or community-based land mitigation mechanisms.

The authorities in Mosul face many challenges in responding to the high number of claims related to HLP violations, which are a major driving force of conflict and social tension. The cost of not promptly addressing these issues will be too much to bear in the future.

In this regard, the housing registration directorate will be re-established and functioning in Hay Al-Zuhur on 17 February 2018, which marks a significant step in facilitating the production/restoration of occupancy, rental, or ownership documents. UN-Habitat is committed to support the efforts of the authorities and increase its HLP interventions in Mosul, and other areas in Iraq in 2018.

(Source: UN)

The UK Government has donated an additional 1 million GBP (1.3 million USD) to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), increasing the UK total contribution to 14.2 million GBP (20 million USD).

The additional funding will boost UNMAS support to stabilization efforts by increasing survey and clearance of critical infrastructure in liberated areas. This is important before rehabilitation can commence and crucial for the safe, dignified and voluntary returns of displaced people.

The contribution will be used to deploy additional assets to Mosul during the months of January, February and March, in line with emergency operational needs. UNMAS began survey and clearance operations in Mosul’s Old City in late November 2017.

UNMAS efforts to ensure a coordinated stabilization response into Mosul have accelerated activities. Following planning meetings between the Government, UNMAS, UNDP, UN Habitat, UNEP, and UNESCO, UNMAS has now provided survey and clearance teams in five districts in the Old City.

UNMAS works in close collaboration with the Directorate for Mine Action and Iraqi Security Forces to complement the clearance work that has already taken place by the Government of Iraq following the liberation of Mosul.

Close collaboration with UNDP to provide survey and clearance capacities, as well as threat assessments, are an integral part of the Funding Facility for Stabilization’s (FFS) rapid needs assessment process in Mosul.

Between 1 December and 16 December 2017, UNMAS received 139 additional tasks from FFS, conducting survey and clearance in water treatment plants, hospitals and education centers. The additional funds will go towards continuing this response.

Jon Wilks, British Ambassador to Iraq, said:

“The survey and clearance work carried out by UNMAS is vital to the safety of returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq. This latest contribution demonstrates the UK’s enduring commitment to UNMAS’ work and to supporting humanitarian and stabilisation efforts in Iraq.”

Pehr Lodhammar, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager in Iraq, stated:

“Continuous support from the United Kingdom allows UNMAS to further extend its support and activities to enable stabilization priorities and humanitarian activities, encouraging the safe return of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to areas previously occupied by ISIL.”

Thanks to the generous contribution from the UK Government, UNMAS’ work has been made possible.

UNMAS will continue ensuring that explosive hazards are cleared in support of stabilization efforts and enabling access for humanitarian activities across Iraq. The total contribution of 14.2 million GBP (20 million USD) is supporting this life saving work in liberated areas of Anbar, Salah ah-Din, Ninewa and Kirkuk governorates.

(Source: United Nations)

UN-Habitat and UNDP are helping Iraq to address strategic urban development of the Pilgrimage governorates of Najaf and Karbala.

Nearly thirty Iraqi officials convened in the holy city of Karbala, on 22-23 August 2017, to partake in an intensive two-day workshop titled “Governorate Urban Strategies for the Pilgrimage Cluster: Meeting the SDGs in Iraq”.

The officials represented the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Municipalities, Construction and Housing, and Public Works, both the national and local levels, as well as Karbala Governorate.

UN-Habitat organized the workshop under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP), a project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and funded by the European Union (EU).

Director General for Local and Regional Planning at the Ministry of Planning, Mr. Mohammed Al-Sayed, said:

“We appreciate the chance to enhance coordination between Governorate officials and improve the capacity of the staff at the central and local levels, in line with the decentralization efforts of the government.”

The workshop focused on the on-going spatial analysis of urban issues and development indicators concerning the governorates of Najaf and Karbala, being developed by UN-Habitat in close coordination with the Ministry of Planning.

Humanitarians fear for the 750,000 civilians in western Mosul

100 days after military operations to retake Mosul started, humanitarian partners are expressing deep concern about the plight of the estimated 750,000 civilians who are currently living in the western sections of the city where fighting is expected to start in coming weeks.

“We are relieved that so many people in the eastern sections of Mosul have been able to stay in their homes. We hope that everything is done to protect the hundreds of thousands of people who are across the river in the west. We know that they are at extreme risk and we fear for their lives,” said Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.

In the contingency plan prepared prior to the onset of the Mosul campaign, humanitarian partners warned that as many as one million civilians may be impacted by the fighting in a worst case scenario. To date, 180,000 people have fled the eastern sections of the city; more than 550,000 civilians have stayed in their homes.

Humanitarian partners have been working as quickly as possible to provide direct lifesaving assistance. Nearly 600,000 people have received food, 745,000 people have benefitted from water and sanitation support and 370,000 people have sought medical care.

Eighty-five per cent of the people displaced from Mosul are staying in 13 displacement camps and emergency sites constructed by the Government and partners. Ten of these camps are already full of which four are being extended. Seven more are under construction.

“The reports from inside western Mosul are distressing. Humanitarian partners are unable to access these areas but all the evidence points to a sharply deteriorating situation. The prices of basic food and supplies are soaring. Water and electricity are intermittent in neighbourhoods and many families without income are eating only once a day. Others are being forced to burn furniture to stay warm,” said Ms. Grande.

“We don’t know what will happen in western Mosul but we cannot rule out the possibility of siege-like conditions or a mass exodus. To date, nearly half of all the casualties from Mosul are civilians. It’s terrifying to think of the risks families are facing,” said Ms. Grande. “They can be killed by booby-traps and in cross-fire and could be used as human shields.”

The Iraqi Security Forces have adopted a humanitarian concept of operations putting civilian protection at the centre of their battle plan. Humanitarian partners welcome this approach and renew their collective call on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and ensure they have access to life-saving assistance.

“The world’s attention is fixed on the military campaign in Iraq. But once this is over, there will still be a humanitarian crisis. As many as three million Iraqis, maybe even four million depending on what happens in Mosul, Hawiga and Tel Afar may be displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict. These families will need to make crucial choices about how to rebuild and re-establish their lives. And we will need to be here to help them. We hope and trust that the international community will not walk away after Mosul. It would be a mistake — a very big one — if this were to happen.”

Signees:

Lise Grande, Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
Aaron Brent, Country Representative Northern Iraq, CARE
Altaf Musani, Representative and Head of Mission, WHO Iraq
Bana Kaloti, Regional Director-Middle East, UNOPS
Bruno Geddo, Representative in Iraq, UNHCR
Dina Zorba, Country Representative, UN Women
Erfan Ali, Head of Iraq Programme, UN-Habitat
Fadel El-Zubi, Representative in Iraq, FAO
Francesco Motta, Director of the HRO/UNAMI, Representative of the UN OHCHR in Iraq
Ivo Freijsen, Head of Office Iraq, UNOCHA
Louise Haxthausen, Director, UNESCO Iraq
Mounir Tabet, Country Director, UNDP Iraq
Peter Hawkins, Representative in Iraq, UNICEF
Ramanathan Balakrishnan, Representative, UNFPA
Sally Haydock, Representative in Iraq, WFP
Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission, IOM
Lawk Ahmad, Country Director, Qandil
Matthew Nowery, Country Director, Samaritan’s Purse
Mike Bonke, Country Director, Welthungerhilfe
Stef Deutekom, Deputy Country Director, DRC

(Source: UNDP in Iraq)