Improved irrigation for farmers and decent work for vulnerable workers in the Kurdish Region of Iraq

Newly launched employment-intensive interventions will ensure workers, a large percentage of whom are women, are employed under decent working conditions, while improving water irrigation channels for local farms.

News | 19 February 2021

(ILO News)
The ILO has launched its first employment intensive investment programme (EIIP) interventions in Iraq, supporting Syrian refugees, internally displaced persons and host community members to access decent work. 

Supported by the Government of the Netherlands, activities kicked off in the Dohuk Governorate to repair and clean water irrigation channels, in collaboration with the Directorate of Irrigation. The work is expected to generate over 100 short-term jobs for vulnerable workers, 30 per cent of whom are women.

Around 30 workers, the majority of whom are women, have already begun work on sites in the District of Semel. “I came to Kurdistan seven years ago and my financial situation is not good. I need this income to support my family,” said one of the Syrian refugee workers, who is a mother-of-three. “We work here from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the work is good.”

The ILO approach will ensure that workers are employed under decent working conditions, including adequate Occupational Safety and Health measures. In January 2021, the ILO trained engineers from the local authorities, who are currently supervising the work on the ground, on safety and decent work principles.

“The ILO training helped me know how to deal with workers especially women, as they need more encouragement and flexibility in the workplace,” said Rejeen, one of the group leaders who is holding inductions with workers.

The ILO is implementing an integrated approach to job creation in Iraq, where workers employed through these short-term EIIP interventions are able to develop demand-driven skills and access career counseling and other employment services, paving the way for longer-term and more sustainable decent work opportunities.

“Our EIIP interventions are not just about giving people short-term employment. We are trying to implement an integrated EIIP approach whereby job creation, skills development, employment services, enterprise development and formalisation are provided to workers so they can access decent employment opportunities” said Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator for Iraq.

The work will help clean and repair a total of 50 KM of irrigation channels, improving the efficiency of transporting water from the source to farm areas in five districts in the Duhok Governorate. Employment-intensive interventions will also be carried out with the Directorate of Municipalities to improve solid waste management by increasing the capacity of the Kwashe Sorting Plant.

These interventions are part of efforts being implemented under the Partnership for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities  (PROSPECTS) in Iraq, which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, bringing together the ILO, IFC, UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Bank to address education, employment and protection in the context of forced displacement. Under the partnership, the ILO is working on different components, which include job creation support, enterprise and skills development, financial inclusion and entrepreneurship, in addition to EIIP.