ILO and the Cash Consortium for Iraq sign MoU to advance the humanitarian-development nexus and improve economic opportunities for vulnerable populations

The collaboration between the agencies builds on existing efforts to accelerate the decent work agenda, including through the expansion of social protection architecture, as well as outlining new areas the partnership can support vulnerable populations in achieving self-reliance.

Press release | 29 March 2021

Erbil, March 29, 2021 - The ILO and the Cash Consortium for Iraq (CCI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as part of the agencies’ strategic partnership to strengthen collaboration in advancing economic growth and self-reliance for vulnerable populations in Iraq. The CCI is a successful partnership of five of the largest INGOs operational in Iraq, inclusive of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Oxfam, and Mercy Corps as the lead agency.

The collaboration builds on existing efforts to support vulnerable workers and enterprises with decent job creation and business development services.

The agreement was signed by Maha Kattaa, the ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq and members of the CCI Steering Committee inclusive of Lilu Thapa (DRC Country Director), Christine Petrie (IRC Country Director), Sahar Alnouri (Mercy Corps Acting Country Director), Rishana Haniffa (NRC Country Director), and Andres Gonzalez Rodriguez (Oxfam Country Director) on Monday (March 29) in Erbil.

“This is a major milestone for humanitarian and development actors in Iraq. We expect this partnership will generate impact through high-quality content, scalable programmatic approaches and an evidence base that can be taken up both by the Government of Iraq as well as by international actors supporting the expansion of economic opportunities and private sector growth,” said CCI Director Gabrielle Fox.

“This agreement is based on efforts to increase collaboration between humanitarian and development actors and to leverage our comparative advantages, expertise and outreach to find sustainable opportunities for vulnerable populations in crisis-affected areas,” added ILO Country Coordinator Maha Kattaa.

The agreement sets out priority areas for collaboration around evidence-informed and market-based approaches to facilitate economic growth, such as enhancing training curricula for greater quality and scale, and establishing standards for enterprise development support initiatives. An overarching theme for the partnership is the transition from the informal to the formal economy and promoting the principles of Decent Work, inclusive of various activities on the technical and policy level.

The collaboration will leverage the ILO’s Employment-Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) as an entry point for formalization and decent work in Iraq. Through this programme, workers, in addition to accessing short-term employment, can progress towards longer-term employability through other interventions such as skills training and entrepreneurship and their inclusion in social protection schemes.

These areas of collaboration stem from findings and recommendations from a rapid assessment conducted jointly by the ILO and CCI, which examined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable households and businesses in Iraq. This assessment highlighted the devastating impact of the crisis on employment and income, particularly among women, youth and those in informal employment. The ILO and the CCI are preparing a follow-up survey examining the longer-term economic impact of the crisis for the coming months. The CCI and ILO are also collaborating on an ongoing assessment of socio-economic vulnerabilities and needs for cash- and market-based employment programming in southern Iraq.

The CCI is a successful and mature partnership comprised of five of the largest International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) operational in Iraq: the Danish Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, and Mercy Corps as the lead agency. The CCI has delivered harmonized programming across 13 governorates in Iraq since its formation in 2015. Its partner organizations have had a longstanding presence in Iraq, working across humanitarian and development programs. CCI partner organizations collectively implement over 100 M USD in economic recovery assistance, inclusive of market-driven training and job development programming. This assistance targets both under-employed individuals (with particular attention to youth and women), and enterprises with the capacity to grow and generate new employment opportunities.

The ILO in Iraq is implementing a growing portfolio of projects and activities as part of its Decent Work Country Programme aimed at promoting decent work and increasing employment opportunities for some of the country’s most vulnerable communities, including internally displaced populations, Syrian refugees, host community members, youth and women. Activities include ensuring that private sector development supports the creation of new jobs; extending and strengthening social protection and addressing child labour; and improving social dialogue to promote rights at work.