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Supporting long-term impacts through sustainable livelihoods and support to local civil society - For ACTED Iraq, 2011 was a year of transition from emergency relief and rehabilitation to development. To support the slow march towards peace and stability, ACTED implemented a dynamic range of programming from the distribution of basic necessities to internally displaced families to apprenticeship programs, gender-based violence awareness and capacity building of local authorities and Iraqi civil society. In 2011, ACTED partnered with an Iraqi NGO for the first time in order to jointly implement a project providing assistance to Iraq’s displaced populations. Moving forward, ACTED will prioritise partnership with local Iraqi NGOs to better deliver assistance through their detailed knowledge of and experience with target communities, build the capacity of Iraq’s civil society and move toward increasingly sustainable and longer-term interventions.
Supporting sustainable livelihoods
Unemployment, especially among youth and women-headed households, continues to be one of the most serious obstacles to Iraq’s long term stability and prosperity. Expanding its 2010 pilot apprenticeship program, in 2011, ACTED generated over 45,000 person-days of employment for 383 beneficiaries through apprenticeships in such professions as carpentry, metal work, sewing and car repair. Through intensive hands-on training, these 6-month apprenticeships cultivate beneficiaries’ marketable skills and lay a solid foundation for future employment. Upon completing the apprenticeships, 25% of apprentices were immediately hired by the shops they apprenticed with. For apprentices demonstrating an interest in starting their own business, ACTED provided the basic tool kits and business training necessary to start their own shop. Over the past several years a combination of drought and the degradation of farmland due to high salt concentrations in the soil have substantially increased the vulnerability of farming families in South Iraq. Supporting rural agrarian families in Thi-Qar and Muthanna governorates, ACTED provided agricultural kits including seeds, water tanks and farming tools to 1,350 families. Distributed through a voucher system, these kits at once provided critical inputs for farming families while simultaneously supporting local markets.
Strengthening Iraqi civil society
Prior to 2003, civil society was virtually non-existent in Iraq. The nascent civil society organizations (CSOs) which have sprung up across the country since 2003, while highly motivated and connected to the needs of local communities, suffer from a general lack of technical and administrative skills and experience that stifles their effectiveness. In 2011, ACTED implemented a pilot program to strengthen the capacity of nine locally-based CSOs working in the Southern governorates of Muthanna, Thi-Qar and Wassit. Staff of these local CSOs were trained by ACTED national staff on a range of topics including finance, logistics and community mobilization with the aim of strengthening the capacity of these organizations to more effectively engage local communities and implement activities in accordance with international best practices. With an overwhelmingly positive response from these local CSOs, ACTED plans to expand the scope and depth of its support to Iraqi civil society in the coming years. In 2011, ACTED began implementing its first project in Baghdad with a local partner, Mercy Hands. This partnership not only allows ACTED to more effectively deliver assistance to the most vulnerable Iraqis due to Mercy Hands’ knowledge of and experience working with these communities, it also strengthens the capacity of our local partner through a mentoring process. Together, ACTED and Mercy Hands have delivered trainings on human rights and peace-building to local CSOs and Reconciliation Councils. In 2012, these trainings will be expanded to include local authorities and incorporate a broader network of local CSOs.
From emergency to development: A focus on civil society
For ACTED, 2012 will be a year of diversification with a mix of activities from continuing to directly support the most vulnerable populations in Iraq through distributions and livelihood activities, to working through local partner organizations to build the capacity of Iraqi civil society and local authorities. Assistance to internally displaced populations, especially in Baghdad, will be a substantial portion of ACTED’s 2012 activities in Iraq. This multifaceted assistance will include apprenticeships, education initiatives on gender-based violence and psycho-social support. Initiatives providing training and support for technical and institutional capacity development for Iraqi CSOs and local authorities will expand in 2012 to include activities in North, Central and South Iraq. In the coming year, ACTED will also begin implementing a cross-border initiative linking Jordan and Iraq in order to address the continuing needs of Iraqi refugees.
Partners in 2011
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).