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)

US Assistance to Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Iraq

As part of the continued commitment by Vice President Pence, Secretary Pompeo (pictured), and USAID Administrator Green to support ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq as highlighted earlier this year at the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, the United States is proud to announce over $178 million in U.S. foreign assistance to support these vulnerable communities in Iraq. This brings total U.S. assistance for this population to nearly $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017, implemented by both the State Department and USAID.

The preservation of Iraq’s rich historical pluralism is critical to reintegrating persecuted ethnic and religious minority communities into a peaceful Iraq. U.S. efforts to meet this objective span government agencies and are being implemented urgently, in close partnership with local faith and community leaders. Our efforts focus on the following areas:

Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response (GRPR)

  • Over $133 million in recently launched activities supporting the four pillars of USAID’s GRPR Program, bringing total funding for GRPR to $239 million.
    • Meeting Immediate Needs: Over $51 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to populations from the Ninewa Plain and western Ninewa, includes safe drinking water, food, shelter materials and household items, medical care, and psychosocial support.
    • Helping Restore Communities: $9 million in funding to support early recovery needs and restore access to services like health and education.
    • Promoting Economic Recovery: $68 million in funding to improve access to jobs and markets, support local businesses, and revive the local economy.
    • Preventing Future Atrocities: $5 million to address systemic issues affecting minority populations and prevent future atrocities.

Clearing the Explosive Remnants of War

  • Approximately $37 million in funding to support explosive remnants of war (ERW) survey, clearance, and risk education in and around minority communities. This support has enabled the Department to significantly expand the number of U.S.-funded ERW survey, clearance, and risk education teams across Ninewa and fulfills the Secretary’s pledge to expand ERW clearance efforts in Iraqi minority communities made at the July 2018 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

Social, Economic, and Political Empowerment

  • $8.5 million in additional assistance to projects that provide psychosocial services, legal support, and initiatives to help collect evidence of human rights abuses; increase minority representation in local and provincial government; increase access to justice for children; strengthen rule of law; and provide livelihoods support and access to economic opportunities for vulnerable groups bringing the FY 2017 total to $18.5 million.

Preservation of Historic and Cultural Heritage Sites

  • $2 million in ongoing programming to support the preservation of cultural heritage sites in Northern Iraq that were targeted for destruction by ISIS and other terrorist groups, safeguarding, preserving, and restoring access to significant cultural heritage sites of minority communities.

(Source: US State Dept)

Iraq: Launch of Price Monitoring Dashboard Enhances Analytical Capacity of Partners

As the situation in Iraq develops, the importance of cash as a means of aid delivery remains central. Increasingly, humanitarian actors find themselves in need of accurate price data to better inform their programs and policies.

In September 2016, the Joint Price Monitoring Initiative (JPMI) was launched by the Cash Working Group (CWG) Iraq and REACH to provide regular price data across central and northern Iraq to inform better cash programming. For the project, price data is analyzed and presented at the district level.

After 17 months of data collection, the CWG and REACH with the support of USAID, have introduced a new online interactive JPMI dashboard to increase data usability and user engagement. Previously the findings of the JPMI were disseminated through a factsheet shared each month, but this did not allow for an easy comparison of data over time.

Much of the narrative was static and users indicated that a snapshot of monthly price change rather than a substantial text document would be more consumable.

Based on the feedback from users and CWG partners, the REACH Iraq team have developed an interactive online dashboard to replace the monthly factsheet. The dashboard allows users to see overall trends, the findings for each assessed month and the findings for each assessed district over time, facilitating longitudinal data analysis that helps inform cash-based programming.

Moreover, through the dashboard, users are able to access every dataset released since November 2016, meaning that all the data collected through the initiative is available in one place.

The CWG and REACH Iraq believe this is a more user-friendly way to display longitudinal price data. The dashboard is a unique resource for cash actors in Iraq that provides 17 months’ of longitudinal price data at the click of a button, which can help inform cash and market-based programming.

Future developments will see the online dashboard integrate other cash-based assessment such as the JRAM and provide deeper insights on the determinants of monthly price change in each district.

(Source: REACH)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) concluded a two-day workshop in Baghdad with 33 organizations seeking to create and design activities together that will assist in the voluntary return of displaced Iraqis to the Ninewa Plain and western Ninewa, and to encourage those who are already in their communities to remain.

The workshop welcomed two senior advisers who attended on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence, further signaling the Administration’s strong commitment to finding innovative solutions to helping the return of displaced populations in Iraq and across the world.

“All Iraqi people suffered greatly during the cruel occupation by ISIS, and the United States is providing assistance to help displaced families return home, including to the Ninewa Plain and western Ninewa, two areas that exemplify Iraq’s unique cultural heritage and religious tolerance.

We look forward to reviewing the innovative proposals that come out of this workshop,” stated Ambassador Douglas Silliman (pictured).

With the liberation of ISIS-controlled territory, approximately 3.5 million Iraqis have already returned home, yet another 2.3 million remain internally displaced. Many of those are from smaller, more vulnerable ethnic and religious groups.

Communities in the Ninewa Plain and western Ninewa face unique and complex post-conflict challenges, and the factors that influence individuals to return to their homes and remain there need to be identified, assessed, and addressed.

USAID’s workshop provides an opportunity for organizations to create high-quality, effective, and efficient partnerships for research, development, and testing of innovative, practical, and cost-effective projects.

(Source: US Embassy)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed an additional US$ 80.85 million to The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

US$ 75 million will go to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS), with the remaining US$ 5.85 million committed to UNDP’s Funding Facility for Economic Reform (FFER). This brings the total United States contribution to UNDP to US$ 198.65 million since 2015.

UNDP’s FFS finances fast-track initiatives to stabilize areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to safeguard against the resurgence of violence and extremism, facilitate returns and lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery.

Through the FFER, UNDP helps the Government of Iraq to address key economic challenges and accelerate efforts to diversify the economy, increase national income and improve the management of national assets.

UNDP Resident Representative for Iraq, Ms. Lise Grande, said:

The progress that is being made is tangible—you can see it everywhere in newly liberated areas. Electricity grids are starting to work, water systems are being repaired, schools are opening, health centres are functioning and people are getting back to work.

“More than half of the nearly six million people who fled their homes during the conflict have returned to their communities and started rebuilding their lives. There’s no question that a huge amount still needs to be done, most importantly in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, and this is why this very generous contribution is so important for Iraq.

The United States’ Ambassador to Iraq, Douglas Silliman stressed that the USA’s commitment to the Iraqi people did not end with the eradication of ISIS. “Communities in the liberated areas now face the daunting challenge of rebuilding their lives and restoring their cultural heritage. These funds will help restore basic services like water and electricity so that Iraqi families of all ethnic and religious backgrounds can return to their homes – safely, voluntarily, and with dignity,” said Ambassador Silliman.

Established in June 2015, FFS is working in newly liberated areas in Anbar, Salah al-Din, Nineveh and Diyala Governorates in order to safeguard against the emergence of violent extremism, facilitate returns and lay the groundwork for reconstruction and recovery.

Two-thirds of the more than 1,600 projects currently underway are in Nineveh Governorate including 500 in Mosul and 280 throughout the Nineveh Plains.  Established in September 2016, FFER is mobilizing expertise to support the implementation of top priority reform initiatives under the leadership of the Office of the Prime Minister.

(Source: UNDP)

Continued U.S. Assistance to Better Meet the Needs of Minorities in Iraq

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have agreed to increase assistance to Iraqis, particularly religious and ethnic minorities, to enable them to return to their homes in areas liberated from ISIS.

Following Vice President Pence’s remarks in October of last year, USAID renegotiated the terms of its agreement to contribute to the UNDP Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) so that $55 million of a $75 million payment will address the needs of vulnerable religious and ethnic minority communities in Ninewa Province, especially those who have been victims of atrocities by ISIS.

The modified agreement ensures that the U.S. contribution will help the populations of liberated areas in Ninewa Province resume normal lives by restoring services such as water, electricity, sewage, health, and education.

The $75 million contribution is the first tranche of the $150 million announced for the FFS by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman in July 2017; fulfillment of the rest of that pledge will depend on UNDP’s success in putting in place additional accountability, transparency, and due-diligence measures for the FFS.

USAID is also proceeding with a process called a Broad Agency Announcement to solicit innovative ideas that support the resettlement of ethnic and religious minorities in their ancestral homes in Iraq. The results of that competition will be available by early Spring.

(Source: UN)

USAID Counselor Thomas H. Staal, a former USAID Iraq Mission Director and now one of the agency’s top officials, returned to Iraq December 5-10 to advance U.S. efforts to help Iraq’s most vulnerable communities following the defeat of ISIS.

While in Baghdad, Staal met with government officials including Dr. Mahdi al-Allaq, Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, to discuss how Iraq can strengthen its support for minority communities.

Staal also met with United Nations representatives who are implementing U.S.-funded stabilization programs in Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah ad Din provinces.  He affirmed the U.S. government’s pledge to provide an additional $150 million to this effort.

With this new infusion of funds, the United States will have provided more than $265 million for stabilization projects and a separate $1.7 billion throughout Iraq for humanitarian assistance to Iraqis who were displaced by the ISIS threat beginning in 2014.

On December 6, Staal traveled to Erbil for a closer look at U.S. assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.  After an initial meeting with the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, he sat down with NGO leaders and representatives from the Christian, Yezidi, Sabean-Mandean, Kakai, Baha’i, Zoroastrian, and Jewish communities to hear their concerns and needs post-ISIS.

For more than 3 years, the people of Hawiija [Hawijah] district in Kirkuk governorate, were cut off from lifesaving health care and immunization services, leaving many children susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. “For years, I worried that my children may contract polio and measles or die,” said Hadija, a 32-year-old mother of 3.

In September 2017, the district became accessible following military operations launched by the Government of Iraq. WHO, together with Kirkuk Directorate of Health, immediately deployed mobile medical teams to provide immunization services, and health care for people suffering from trauma injuries or chronic disease conditions.

Five mobile medical teams were deployed to Khan, Tal Ali, Abbassi, Masanaa, Al Zab and Ryadh areas. Since then, from mid-September to 15 November 2017, more than 10000 people in Hawiija district have benefited from WHO’s support, including 1563 children vaccinated against childhood immunizable diseases.

Although these newly accessible areas are still security compromised, WHO saw an urgency in delivering health care to thousands of people that had been cut off from aid for years, and whose health was being compromised day by day. Five main health facilities have been partially or completely damaged, in addition to Hawija general hospital. Currently, only the Kirkuk Directorate of Health and WHO-supported frontline health teams are delivering immunization services in these areas.