By Robbie Gramer, for Foreign Policy. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Fears Mount as Trump Administration Guts USAID’s Iraq Presence

The United States’ top aid agency is dismantling its presence in Iraq, leaving a skeleton crew ill-equipped to oversee over $1 billion in aid programs aimed in part at staving off the return of terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State, officials and lawmakers say.

An internal U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) document obtained by Foreign Policy confirms that major cuts in staffing were made late last year and highlights the stark difference between the agency’s footprint in Iraq and other countries that receive foreign aid funding: In fiscal 2019, Egypt received roughly one-fifth the amount of U.S. foreign aid as Iraq, but it has more than seven times the number of staff to oversee it.

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Top Mountain and USAID open Business Incubator and Training Center in Erbil

Top Mountain, in partnership with USAID, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Business Incubator and Employment Program’s first training center.

This will be the first of four facilities that Top Mountain will open over the next two months, with three additional training centers planned for Ninevah.  The Erbil Training Center will enable Top Mountain to deliver training, events, and mentorship focused on career development and entrepreneurship for displaced people from Ninevah who are living in Erbil.

The event was attended by the U.S. Deputy Consul General, Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller, and USAID’s Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East, Hallam Ferguson, as well as community leaders, academics, international donors, and NGOs that are currently working in Ninevah.

During his remarks, Mr. Ferguson mentioned that this is the first time since re-establishing its presence in Iraq 16 years ago that USAID has partnered directly with local organizations. “We are very excited to be working with local groups because it’s Iraqis that play the most important role in improving their country,” he said.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results.  USAID has funded Top Mountain’s program under the New Partnership Initiative (NPI), which aims to build the capacity of local organizations and assist populations in Iraq recovering from the genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

Top Mountain is a consulting firm based in Iraq that focuses on stabilization, economic development, and promoting employment and entrepreneurship.  The Business Incubator and Employment Program is aligned with Top Mountain’s mission to support economic development and stability in Iraq.

(Source: Top Mountain)

The Ninewa Investment Forum is taking place from 3rd to 5th December in Erbil.

This two-day event will showcase investment-ready businesses to private investors from around the world.

Presenting a portfolio of very attractive investment opportunities will spark a virtuous cycle of both exciting project opportunities and increased investor confidence.

The event is organized by the Iraq Governance and Performance Accountability (IGPA) project, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and will feature experts and speakers in international investment and development.

The Forum represents a unique collaboration between the U.S. and Iraqi private and public sectors to support communities in Ninewa through catalytic investment opportunities.

Register now

Registration is open to qualified individuals on a space-availability basis. All registration will be confirmed by the Ninewa Investment Forum team.

(Source: Invest in Ninewa)

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes a new contribution of US$24 million from the US Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID-OFDA) to strengthen primary, secondary and preventive health services in conflict-affected governorates in Iraq.

Access to improved life-saving health services will be ensured for approximately 3.5 million beneficiaries in seven governorates where health systems have been weakened by years of conflict.

“WHO is grateful to USAID-OFDA for its continued support, which enables us to maintain the delivery of uninterrupted quality health care services to millions of highly vulnerable women, children and the elderly living in severely affected areas,” said Dr. Adham Ismail Abdel Moniem, WHO Representative in Iraq.

As of October 2019, more than 4.3 million people have returned to their homes of origin, while approximately 1.5 million remain displaced in camps, informal settlements, and host communities across Iraq.

Through this new contribution from USAID-OFDA, WHO will scale up its support to national health authorities and partners to find sustainable solutions for the treatment of common diseases and environmental health emergencies. In parallel, WHO will establish primary health care centers in camps hosting displaced people, and rehabilitate primary health care facilities in areas of return.

The contribution will also cover the provision of prosthetics and physical rehabilitation for amputees, in addition to supporting mental health care services for those in need. Clinical management of rape and Gender-Based-Violence survivors is also among WHO’s priorities for 2019/20.

WHO has received considerable support from USAID/OFDA which was vital in supporting the health emergency response throughout the crisis in Iraq. During the Mosul conflict in 2014, mobile clinics were deployed, field hospitals were established close to the frontlines, and medicines and medical supplies were provided to health facilities delivering emergency health services in Dohuk, Ninewa, Anbar, and Kirkuk.

Medical waste management services were also supported, and a total of 76,000 kgs of medical waste was collected, sorted and disposed to prevent risk of cross-contamination.
“WHO has been able to maintain its work in Iraq through the commitment, cooperation, and generous contributions of donors such as the US Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance,” said Dr. Abdel Moniem.

(Source: UN)

IBBC hosts largest ever delegation of Iraqi business people at London Business Forum

In a wide-ranging business event over 230 Iraqi business-people and 70 British gathered to meet and discuss Business relations, trade, investment and engagement with the UK’s Business community.

Delegates from all regions of Iraq through the chambers of commerce gathered to hear from representatives of trade associations, IBBC members, chambers of commerce and investors.

Baroness Nicholson, President of IBBC, welcomed the new Iraqi Ambassador, H.E. Mr Mohammad Jaafar Al- Sadr, who gave a keynote address at the conference. The Ambassador speech was followed by an address of H.E Mr Karwan Jamal, High Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Of note were the panel from Iraqi business people, headed by Dr Dara Jalel Al-Khayat, Chairman of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Kurdistan, and representatives from Babil, Baghdad and Basra Chambers, as well as the chair of the Importers and exporters association in Kurdistan.

From the British side, a panel consisting of Rod Dowler of the Industry Forum, Alan Rides MD of Hounslow Chamber of Commerce, Brigadier James Ellery of Turnkey LLC and Mr Peter Hunt of HWH Associates and Raed Hanna, MD of MFL Finance, all spoke positively of their experiences in Iraq, but tempered with advice on improvements to the Iraqi experience. Finally, Jessica Hao of Crossboundary associates spoke of opportunities to invest in start-ups and SMEs in Iraq with support of USAID.

Key messages included the enthusiasm with which the Iraqis are keen for British Investment into numerous sectors in Iraq, especially Agriculture, Petro Chemicals, Food Processing, Housing and Consumer goods.

The idea of joint ventures with British know how and expertise and Iraqi partners are also suggested as ways to overcome perceptions of risk in the country. However, many delegates all supported the notion that despite the present legitimate protests in many parts of the country overall peace and stability has returned to Iraq following the defeat of DAESH and that the business environment is getting more favourable. Nevertheless, much needs to be done to free up and boost the private sector, an essential step to meet the demands for real jobs and futures of the ever-increasing young Iraqi population.

Following the formal event, the delegates networked extensively with each other and the British contacts in the room.

The group move onto Northampton University, Ardley high tech waste centre, and High-tech leather innovation centre in Northampton University before returning to Iraq.

For more information on the contacts for exports and import opportunities, please contact London@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

Top Mountain in partnership with USAID is launching a business incubator and employment program. The goal of the program is to promote economic growth and increase employment opportunities to support minorities from Ninewa targeted by ISIS.

Program activities will focus on achieving three core objectives designed to support this goal. Firstly, outreach campaigns will be used to increase interest in entrepreneurship and careers in the private sector.

Secondly, the project will build capacity in both technical and soft skills that will help beneficiaries start businesses and become more competitive in the job market. Lastly, the project will help to build professional networks that increase business and employment opportunities for persecuted minorities from Ninewa.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID has funded this program under the New Partnership Initiative (NPI) that aims to assist populations in Iraq recovering from the genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

Top Mountain is a consulting firm based in Iraq focused on stabilization, economic development, and promoting employment and entrepreneurship. This program is aligned with Top Mountain’s mission to support economic development and stability in Iraq.

For more information please contact info@topmountain.co

(Source: Top Mountain)

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green announced the first tranche of recipients under USAID’s New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) on Thursday during his remarks at the Accord Network’s Annual Forum.

The organizations will carry out programs that improve global health outcomes in USAID’s partner countries, and assist populations in the Republic of Iraq that are recovering from the genocide perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Administrator Green launched the NPI in May 2019 to expand and diversify USAID’s partner base and change the way the Agency does business. By working with new or underutilized partners, the Agency hopes to bring more innovative approaches to U.S. foreign assistance; focus on strengthening capacity and commitment in partner countries by tapping into existing networks of community- and faith-based organizations; and reach new populations.

Administrator Green also announced a new $18 million award to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the return and recovery of displaced religious and ethnic minority communities in the Nineveh Plains and Western Nineveh Province. Long-time USAID partner Samaritan’s Purse will receive $9 million of that total.

New USAID Assistance Through the NPI Direct to Local Iraqi Groups That Are Helping Victims of ISIS Genocide

USAID is awarding small grants through the NPI that total approximately $4 million to six local groups in Northern Iraq to help religious and ethnic minorities targeted by ISIS. The new NPI implementers in Northern Iraq are the following:

Philadelphia Organization for Relief and Development: The award will establish a community center in the town of Qaraqosh to provide services for people with disabilities, training in employment skills, child care, and a community food bank.

Catholic University of Erbil: The award will provide classes in business language and computer software for widows, victims of abuse, and former captives of ISIS.

Top Mountain: The award will support a business incubator and employment program for Iraqi youth, which will promote entrepreneurship, provide business training, and build commercial networks.

Shlama Foundation: The award seeks to improve job opportunities through training engineers on the installation on solar power, provide electricity for families, and install solar-powered pumps for farms and street lighting for villages.

Beth Nahrain: The award will help re-establish a local, women-led organization decimated by ISIS. The organization will also provide small-business vocational training to women in the Nineveh Plains.

Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights: The award will provide trauma-rehabilitation and resilience services to survivors of genocide; legal services and programs in justice/reparations; and activities to promote inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue.

The United States remains committed to supporting persecuted religious and ethnic minorities in Northern Iraq. With these new awards, the total assistance the U.S. Government has provided since 2017 in Northern Iraq is now more than $400 million. These programs complement H.R. 390, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, which passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and which President Donald J. Trump signed into law on December 11, 2018. Additional U.S. humanitarian assistance has also benefited the same Iraqi communities.

New Funding for the IOM and Samaritan’s Purse to Help Victims of ISIS Genocide

Administrator Green also announced at the Accord Network that Samaritan’s Purse will receive $9 million as a part of a new $18 million award to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to support the return and recovery of displaced religious and ethnic minority communities in the Nineveh Plains and Western Nineveh Province in Iraq.

New USAID Assistance in Global Health Through the NPI

Administrator Green also announced two new awards under the Agency’s NPI for global health. These awards, which total $68 million, will leverage the expertise and reach of local and locally established civil society and faith- and community-based organizations to increase the quality, access, and sustainability of health care.

The new NPI implementers for global health are the following:

World Relief: Working with local partners, World Relief will expand and leverage existing community networks in four countries to help strengthen maternal, reproductive, and child health at the local level.

Palladium International: This program will help reach USAID’s goal of increasing access to, and the uptake of, high-quality health care across priority areas, in line with USAID’s Journey to Self-Reliance. The partner will provide sub-awards to local organizations, along with mentoring and technical support to strengthen their capacity. Palladium will be expected to pass sixty-five percent of the total award to new and underutilized sub-awardees.

(Source: USAID)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a workshop in Erbil, in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, on May 14, 2019, to discuss USAID’s New Partnership Initiative (NPI) with 30 local and faith-based Iraqi organizations.

USAID will co-create with successful applicants to award $3 million dollars by the end of this U.S. Government’s Fiscal Year to local and faith-based organizations.

The Iraq NPI Addendum will allow USAID to work directly with a more diverse range of partners in its continuing efforts to help religious and ethnic minority communities in Northern Iraq recover from the genocide perpetrated by the so-call Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The principles behind NPI appear in the Agency’s first-ever Acquisition and Assistance (A&A) Strategy.

The overall Agency NPI seeks to support governments, civil society, and the private sector in our partner countries’ as they make progress on the Journey to Self-Reliance, achieve sustainable and resilient results, and generate measurable impact.

(Source: USAID)

U.S. Government to Provide Additional $100 Million for Iraq Stabilization

US Chargé d’Affaires Joey Hood has announced that the United States Government intends to provide an additional $100 million to help stabilize liberated areas once held by the Islamic State.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide the funds to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  With this $100 million contribution, the U.S. Government will have provided $358 million to stabilization efforts in Iraq since 2015.

The Funding Facility for Stabilization is supported by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and managed in cooperation with the Government of Iraq.

The United States and the GOI are committed to creating the conditions to allow displaced Iraqis to return to their homes and start to rebuild their lives.  Strengthened with new funding, this stabilization program will restore essential services, such as water, electricity, sewage, health, housing, and education.

In his announcement, the Chargé called on Anbar’s elected officials, tribal sheikhs, and residents to protect the project work sites and ‎do their part to re-integrate back into their communities all displaced Iraqis who wished to return home.

(Source: U.S. Embassy Baghdad)

Creativity flourishes as Mosul’s Fine Arts College officially opens

The newly-rehabilitated College of Fine Arts at Mosul University has been officially opened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Iraq.

The College, rehabilitated by UNDP with financial support from the United States Government through USAID, offers third-level art courses ranging from music, theatre, painting, and sculpture, and will benefit 600 students from across Iraq.

The renovation work included plastering and repainting the classroom walls, repairing doors and windows, replacing the roof and restoring electrical systems.

During ISIL’s occupation of Mosul between 2014 and 2017, the College suffered extensive damage and subsequently closed. Artworks were destroyed and strewn across the campus, as art-making was believed to contradict Islamic State ideology.

“Mosul once sat at the epicentre of Iraq’s cultural identity, so the reopening of this college is a significant milestone for local communities,” says Head of UNDP Stabilization, Dr Mohammedsiddig Mudawi.

“Art as a form of expression has allowed people of Mosul – many of them students who have been born into years of conflict – heal from the atrocities faced under ISIL.  It’s wonderful to see a rejuvenation of this artistic talent here at the College,” adds Dr. Mudawi.

Joey Hood, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Mission in Iraq, says: “Through the United Nations Development Program Funding Facility for Stabilization, the United States is rehabilitating 14 buildings here at Mosul University, including the College of Fine Arts, where1 I am proud to see that students are once again in class.”

The ceremony included a theatrical performance by art students as well as an art exhibition in the College’s refurbished courtyard.

The College rehabilitation project is also supported by the Government of Canada, which funded the rehabilitation of water pump station on campus. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) has funded the supply of furniture and equipment for the College.

(Source: UNDP)