Emergency operations

The World Food Programme’s (WFP) Iraq response helps people affected by the conflict, by delivering emergency food assistance and organising logistics.

More on Iraq

What are the current issues in Iraq

The situation in Iraq remains volatile due to long years of ongoing instability. Since 1990, both accessibility and the quality of essential services have deteriorated significantly in a country where one-quarter of the population lives below the poverty line of US$2 per day.Although Iraqis’ dependency on the Public Distribution System (PDS) has decreased from 67 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in 2011, it remains the main source of food for the poorest Iraqis.

In 2012, the influx of Syrian refugees into northern Iraq due to the ongoing conflict was an added burden. The Kurdistan Regional Government, United Nation (UN) agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are providing assistance to Syrian refugees.

According to the Iraq Knowledge Network (IKN) survey conducted in 2011, food deprivation in Iraq decreased from seven percent in 2007 to six percent in 2011. Vulnerability to food deprivation also decreased from 20 percent to 14 percent during the same period. Food deprivation in Iraq is transforming from a rural to an urban phenomenon due to improved government investment in agriculture and improvement in rural incomes due to rising food prices.

However, substantial regional differences persist. Districts suffering from the highest levels of food deprivation are concentrated in the south and north-west of the country. Limited income and lack of access to enough food remain the main cause of food insecurity in Iraq. Although Iraqis’ dependency on the PDS has decreased from 67 percent in 2007 to 57 percent in 2011, it remains the main source of food for the poorest Iraqis.

More than 1.7 million Iraqis – of which 49 percent are women and 51 percent men – have been internally displaced since February 2006. Recent studies show that internally displaced people’s (IDPs) access to food has drastically decreased as a result of irregular PDS distributions. In some governorates, up to 92 percent of IDPs claim food to be their most pressing need.

The rate of unemployment stands at eight percent down from 11.7 percent in 2007. The highest unemployment rates remain among the youth and are estimated at 18 percent.

In 2012, the influx of Syrian refugees into northern Iraq due to the ongoing conflict was an added burden. The Kurdistan Regional Government, UN agencies and NGOs are providing assistance to Syrian refugees. In July 2012, The World Food Programme (WFP) started providing food assistance to Syrian refugees in the north of the country with priority given to camp refugees in Domiz and Al-Qaim.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Iraq

Assistance to Syrian Refugees: Since July 2012, WFP has been providing food assistance to Syrian refugees who have fled to Iraq. While WFP initially provided food assistance to 5,000 Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region, it plans to progressively reach up to 90,000 beneficiaries by the end of June 2013. WFP is assisting Syrian refugees through food packages and a voucher programme in areas where security and market capacity permits.

  • School Meals Programme

During the 2011/2012 school year, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with WFP provided a daily snack of fortified biscuits to 600,000 primary school children in 2,500 schools in 24 of the most vulnerable Iraqi districts. WFP is also building the Ministry of Education’s capacity to design and implement a national school meals programme.

  • Supporting Government Safety Nets

WFP is supporting the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to reform social safety nets for vulnerable groups. WFP is also collaborating with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on capacity building programmes that aim to help ministry staff in poverty-targeting, designing and targeting social safety nets, monitoring and evaluation procedures and developing a management information system.

  • Cash-for-Assets

WFP is targeting unemployment in some of the areas most vulnerable to violence and insecurity in Iraq through a cash-for-assets programme. Cash for assets provides means for vulnerable families to rebuild their livelihoods, facilitate resettlement and the reintegration of IDPs and returnees while creating employment opportunities to improve access to food. In 2012, WFP has approved 71 cash-for-assets projects in nine districts of three governorates; Baghdad, Diyala and Ninewah. More than 70 percent of the project has been completed with the participation of 46,000 vulnerable people of whom 50 percent were internally displaced.

  • Mother and Child Health and Nutrition

WFP Iraq launched the Mother and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) pilot programme in mid-May 2012. The programme works on both preventing and treating malnutrition among children under 5 using ready-to-use supplementary foods (RUSF). The pilot phase of the project covers 27,600 children in six of the most vulnerable districts of Iraq.

Featured Iraq publications

  • Iraq: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 0 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Iraq? Visit the Iraq publications archive.