New report from FAO, IFAD, WFP and the World Bank reveals complex impact of COVID-19 on food security in Iraq

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank have collected and analyzed new data on the impact of the crisis on food security, and made corresponding joint recommendations in the first report of a new regular series, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security in Iraq.”

Many people have been unable to work during the current crisis. Around 4.8 million people (12% of the total population) are using negative coping strategies to meet their food needs, and a large stimulus package will be required to re-start the economy, beyond the current measures to mitigate the impact on households and businesses.

On the other hand, food availability has been stable overall, with above-average cereal production in the 2019/2020 season, and the government of Iraq taking a proactive role to keep the food system open despite lockdowns. Food imports have continued, with global trade largely uninterrupted.

Humanitarian, social protection and development responses have stepped up, both from the government (such as “Minha” – “Grant”) and supporting partners. However, global trends have had a cascading impact on Iraq. The fall in oil prices and the slow recovery of the global oil market have had negative implications for the domestic budget, and may affect the government’s ability to continue to fund social protection programmes and agriculture subsidies.

With assistance from Food Security Cluster partners and the Cash Consortium of Iraq, FAO, IFAD, WFP and the World Bank analyzed food availability and access, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations, and jointly made policy recommendations.

“With initiatives to work towards a regional trade integration framework, create an enabling environment for increasing domestic production, invest in productive infrastructure, enhance social protection and monitor food security, vulnerable households can continue to have access to nutritious food. All possible efforts will be made to support the government of Iraq and implement the proposed recommendations,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr Salah El Hajj Hassan, IFAD Representative for Iraq Tarek Ahmed, WFP Iraq Representative Abdirahman Meygag, and World Bank Iraq Representative Ramzi Neman, in a joint statement.

The new publication builds on the partners’ weekly reports on COVID-19 and food security, which launched in April and continue to be released.

Download a copy of the new report at: https://bit.ly/2VDbH3a

(Source: UN)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a donation of US$522,500 from the Government of Switzerland to support the food needs of nearly 24,000 refugees and internally displaced people for one month.

The funds, coming through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, will be used to provide cash assistance to 13,400 Iraqis displaced by the conflict and 10,400 Syrian refugees.

“During the ongoing pandemic, refugees and displaced persons remain among the most vulnerable in Iraq,” said the Ambassador of Switzerland to Iraq Lukas Gasser.

“Switzerland continues its long-term partnership with WFP, working together to support displaced Iraqis and Syrian refugee families, to get through this difficult time of heightened need – especially as many affected people remain unable to work.”

Due to increased needs caused by COVID-19, WFP has scaled up its assistance in Iraq reaching a total of 76,000 refugees and 280,000 IDPs.

“WFP expresses its continued gratitude for the steadfast support of the people and Government of Switzerland particularly during this difficult time,” said WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag.

“Many IDPs and refugee families had begun to achieve some self-sufficiency in securing their food needs before the pandemic. Now many have lost their jobs, among the worst affected are day labourers and seasonal workers.”

In ongoing efforts to mitigate COVID-19, WFP is pioneering cashless payments in camps, so that people can purchase food in a “contactless” manner. This both reduces the need for banknotes, and helps avoid the need for people to leave the camp and move around more than necessary.

Meanwhile, WFP and its partners continue awareness sessions on precautionary measures, and will begin emergency livelihoods projects as soon as it is safe, to help affected people to work again and secure their food needs.

(Source: UN)

Belgium and Italy support WFP’s assistance to displaced families and refugees in Iraq

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes two generous contributions from the Governments of Belgium and Italy of €1 million each (US$1.1 million) to assist internally displaced people (IDPs) and Syrian refugees in Iraq.

“The vulnerable situation of IDPs and refugees in Iraq is now further exacerbated by COVID-19. Italy remains committed to supporting WFP in its work to reach affected communities, helping people meet their food needs. Particularly in the current context, where many people have lost day jobs or cannot work, food assistance remains vital,” said the Italian Ambassador to Iraq Bruno Pasquino.

Both contributions – committed pre-COVID-19 crisis – will enable WFP to distribute monthly cash-based transfers through electronic vouchers (“e-vouchers”) and “mobile money,” to 81,300 of the most vulnerable IDPs and Syrian refugees – who had to flee their homes and still live in camps. Cash assistance gives people the freedom to buy the food of their choice and at the same time sustains demand in local shops boosting the local economy, which is being badly affected by COVID-19.

Restrictions imposed to face COVID-19 in the country have pushed food prices higher while at the same time people’s incomes diminished as they are unable to work. WFP is seeking US$31.9 million to help meet the increased needs of families affected by COVID-19.

“By addressing the food needs and assisting communities in strengthening their coping mechanisms, WFP plays a significant role in a number of countries and as such, is a key partner of Belgian humanitarian aid,” said Ambassador of Belgium to Jordan and Iraq Filip Vanden Bulcke. “We are keen to support a comprehensive Food Security system in Iraq through our multiyear and flexible funding to WFP, to respond to people in need of humanitarian food assistance.”

“As people’s needs grow in the current context, WFP extends its gratitude to the Governments of Belgium and Italy for such strong and enduring partnerships,” said WFP Representative in Iraq Abdirahman Meygag. “These funds are helping us ensure that the most vulnerable IDPs and Syrian refugees have enough to eat and prevent them from spiraling into hunger and poverty during this very difficult time.”

Despite the retaking of areas that had been occupied by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), 1.4 million people continue to be displaced, hampered from returning to their homes due to severe damage, a lack of basic services and security issues. Due to violence in neighboring Syria, Iraq continues to host around 247,500 Syrian refugees.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)

Today on World Food Day, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) renewed their commitment to supporting the government of Iraq in ensuring that all Iraqis have food security by 2030, with a focus on nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods.

“World Food Day is when we confirm and work to achieve our commitment towards Zero Hunger. In Iraq, FAO will be further cooperating with WFP to provide capacity development and rural income generation programmes for farmers.

FAO is supporting the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, value chains development, the fishery sector and introducing smart agriculture practices in response to country priorities and climate change impact,” said FAO Representative in Iraq Dr. Salah El Hajj Hassan.

The 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between FAO and WFP fosters closer collaboration on longer-term initiatives. Activities will include restoring irrigation canals, instituting sustainable practices such as planting productive trees, and providing inputs such as seeds and tools.

Through such programmes, vulnerable people will receive an income, can get back to work following displacement due to conflict, and continue to farm and grow their own food.

As well as enhanced nutrition awareness for Iraqi citizens, in the coming year, climate change adaptation will be a priority so that communities are better able to recover from climate-related shocks. FAO and WFP are striving to build social cohesion through collective livelihoods rehabilitation. WFP recently reopened its office in Basra to help coordinate activities next year in the south, where vulnerability and poverty indicators are worst.

“In this rehabilitation phase, FAO and WFP are working on livelihoods projects to bring communities together, and contribute to improving long-term self-sufficiency,” said Abdirahman Meygag, WFP Iraq Representative. “We see our climate change adaptation activities as being crucial for food security and the country’s recovery.”

FAO and WFP will also share expertise on information management and assessments, for evidence-based programming that targets the most vulnerable. Programmes are designed together with the government, for and with communities. The two agencies will also coordinate with partners on livelihoods activities, to maximise income-generating opportunities for those in most need.

(Source: UN)

In Numbers

  • 378,787 people assisted in July 2019
  • 1,87 mt of food assistance distributed
  • USD 3.04 million cash-based transfers made
  • USD 68.2 million six months (August 2019 – WFP January 2020) net funding requirements

Operational Updates

  • In July, WFP delivered food assistance to 378,787 people in 10 governorates, reaching 89.7 percent of the monthly target of 422,376 people. This is mainly due to some delays in Mobile Money Transfers (MMT) payments to people assisted due to banking regulations issues. WFP Iraq is taking steps to resolve this by opening a local bank account in Iraqi dinars.
  • WFP Iraq continues to coordinate with the Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) to meet the food needs of IDPs. In Anbar, Ninewa and Salah al-Din, WFP delivered a “top-up” to MoMD’s assistance. This represents around 65 to 70 percent of the total entitlement provided by MoMD and mainly consists of cereals and lentils (50 kg per-household) to complement MoMD’s food basket, or a cash transfer of 11,000 IQD.
  • General food assistance to refugees is now being delivered through MMT. The transition from e-vouchers included successful rounds of SIM card distributions in nine camps, with good coordination between WFP teams, partners, camp management and Financial Service Provider (FSP) teams.
  • In close coordination with the Ministry of Education, preparations are underway to resume School Feeding in October for the new academic year. A Call for Proposals for cooperating partners took place, and recruitment for the new team is also starting.
  • Over 1,000 students graduated from the first cycle of EMPACT digital skills training. They are now enrolled in advanced (Level 2) courses focusing on advanced digital skills and English. Outreach is underway for the second cycle of new students to begin Level 1 classes in August. WFP Iraq’s sub-offices have received a donation of Google Chromebooks, which will be handed over to EMPACT classrooms for participants to use for freelance work from August.
  • As part of the testing phase of the digitalisation of Iraq’s Public Distribution System (PDS) social safety locations in Anbar governorate. The first ePDS distributions took place in Duhok and Najaf, and the second distribution cycle took place in Baghdad.
  • In partnership with Mosul University, WFP Iraq’s Resilience team has begun the “three-pronged approach” (3PA) training for the planning of resilience projects. The 3PA takes into account the nationwide, seasonal/livelihoods and community levels for planning.

(Source: WFP)

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 Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)

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 Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

(Picture: Success, growth, career, development signpost from 3D_Creation/Shutterstock)