© WFP/Sharon Rapose
The overall security situation in Iraq has been improving since the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at the end of 2017, although significant challenges remain – including political and security transitions, economic instability, and social unrest due to rising unemployment, eroded public services and persistent low standards of living. The humanitarian situation is still precarious in many conflict-affected areas. With the poverty rate standing at 22.5 percent, Iraq ranks 120 of 189 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index.
There are still 1.39 million displaced Iraqis and 247,440 Syrian refugees in Iraq. Some families report secondary displacements, as they are forced to return to camps because of security conditions, and the lack of job and livelihood opportunities in their regions of origin.
The assistance provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Iraq focuses on saving lives and fostering livelihoods, supporting the government of Iraq's social protection programmes towards Zero Hunger. Through emergency assistance to IDPs and refugees, and recovery and skills training activities for returnees, WFP is helping the Iraqi government reduce vulnerability and build people’s resilience and food security, towards longer-term peace and development.
The first case of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 was recorded in Iraq on 24 February. Given the increasing number of cases reported by the Ministry of Health, and the decision taken by the Iraqi government to limit gatherings, WFP and its partners are taking additional measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of people assisted.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Iraq
WFP supports some 280,000 internally displaced people and 76,000 Syrian refugees in camps with monthly food assistance, mainly in the form of cash transfers. Through regular coordination, WFP complements the food basket provided by the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, with smaller “top-ups”. This system has helped stabilise people’s food consumption levels, and saved funds.
WFP helps enhance the food security of vulnerable people through restoring or creating key assets and creating work opportunities such as “kitchen gardens”, harvestable tree planting, and water conservation projects – all complemented with training. WFP also is also continuing the award-winning EMPACT “Empowerment in Action” programme, which equips Syrian refugees and vulnerable Iraqi youth with digital and English language skills to help them secure work.
Public distribution system
WFP supports the Ministry of Trade (MoT) to digitalise the Public Distribution System of food rations (PDS), Iraq’s biggest social protection programme. The new “ePDS” enables better management and tracking for people to easily pick up their rations via iris scanning and digital verification. WFP and MoT are triallling the Tamwini “My Food Ration” smartphone application, so people can easily update their family information and engage with the PDS on their mobile phones.
WFP and the Ministry of Education resumed the school feeding programme in December 2019, reaching over 324,000 school children in 1,200 schools in 11 governorates across Iraq, with an aim to expand it to all governorates from October. The children received healthy snacks of bread, fruit, cheese, water or fruit juice, all sourced from local suppliers. In April, when the schools remained closed due to COVID-19, children received take-home rations.
WFP has scaled up its assistance to vulnerable people affected by the crisis, working to add 35,000 refugees and 10,000 internally displaced people who will receive monthly cash transfers.To contain the spread of the virus, WFP and partners take preventive measures such as maintaining safe distances, using masks and hand sanitisers, and sterilizing frequently-used items in the food distribution areas. Key messages have been shared and awareness sessions run with people assisted, and camp shop staff. WFP pioneers new cashless payments, so people can purchase food “contactless” with their mobile phones, which is both easy and hygienic.
Partners and donorsAchieving Zero Hunger is the work of many. Our work in Iraq is made possible by the support and collaboration of our partners and donors, including:
UN Compound, International Zone