Protracted conflict in Iraq has caused large-scale internal displacement, with the UNHCR registering approximately 1,200,000 internally displaced persons, 4,900,000 returnees and 250,000 Syrian refugees (as of June 2021). 13% of IDPs and returnee households are female-headed and face a high risk of gender-based violence.

In Iraq, the Qudra 2 programme promotes the well-being and self-development of children and vulnerable adults, employment and income opportunities, and transparent and inclusive services. Throughout all its components, the programme promotes community cohesion among refugees, IDPs, and returnees. Its priority is to assist children, youth, women, and other vulnerable groups.

Qudra 2 is implemented in Central Iraq (Anbar, Nineveh, and Salah Al-Din) and all four governorates of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq-KRI (Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Halabja).

1. Promoting self-development and the well-being of children and vulnerable adults

Qudra 2 supports specialist and community-based care for those who need expert help to overcome their experiences. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, health personnel receive specialised training in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to enable them to provide the support required by Iraqi returnees, IDPs, Syrian refugees and host communities. Community-based psychosocial care is supported for the heavily conflict-affected communities of West-Mosul.

2. Employment and income opportunities for the most vulnerable

Despite its oil wealth, Iraq lacks economic and employment opportunities, especially for young people and women. The consequences of violent conflict and a weak private sector make it difficult for people to find jobs or set up a business. Qudra 2 provides vulnerable community members looking to enter the labour market with training, and start-up support, small grants, and infrastructure investments for entrepreneurs wishing to start their own businesses. Public-private sector cooperation is facilitated to align the needs of job-seekers and small to medium businesses with the requirements of the labour market and economy.

In KRI, cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs resulted in 1 000 youths participating in on-site, on-the- job training organised by private companies. This collaboration effectively resulted in the employment of more than 500 youths.

In the agricultural sector, Qudra 2 rehabilitates infrastructure, such as irrigation canals, to catalyse economic activity and employment. Equipment and training are provided to ensure that productivity is increased, and in Central Iraq, local NGO partners train resident youth seeking employment in this sector.

3. Transparent and Inclusive Basic Services

Electricity, clean water, safe roads, and other basic services provide a sound foundation for productive economies, personal dignity, and social cohesion. Qudra 2’s Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) support local governments to address the most critical gaps in public services. A rigorous and transparent selection process is used to identify the priorities of local communities.

The programme also strengthens the capacity of local governments to deliver transparent and inclusive services to local communities. Civil society organisations are supported to promote social cohesion through community-based action, which has resulted in local communities setting up community gardens or small libraries.

4. Fostering dialogue for exchange and innovation

Action-oriented dialogue among different groups, seeking to foster social cohesion, complements other programme activities.

Note: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced in all aspects of life in Iraq. The Qudra 2 programme adapted to incorporate flexible and relevant interventions to assist people affected by the virus. Qudra 2 and its partners facilitated health, hygiene, psychosocial support (PSS), protection and awareness- raising activities, and access to employment and essential services that directly address the pandemic and its long-term effects.