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Ninewa #2 © Action contre la Faim Irak

Testimony

Iraq

Hadia & Mahmood : rebuilding lifes with cash for work

 

HADIA’S story

 

She and her family have lived through harsh conditions due to the war. After ISIS’ takeover, her family flew Al- Qahtaniyah and was displaced for six years, living in a IDP camp in northern Iraq. After the end of the conflict and the country stabilisation, the household decided to return to their area of origin. “The story remains… my suffering did not end with the end with my returns to Qahtaniyah” she states. She needed to find a job, in order to help her family survive. Her days were “full of fear and terror”, as she “encountered the painful reality” of the labor market, and the impossibility of finding a job.

This situation has been a growing source of anxiety for Hadia and her family, and it has created a growing hardship, forcing them to deprive themselves, and not allowing them to meet their most basic needs. Of this period, she recalls “I lived difficult days almost similar to those experienced during the exodus”.

When the consortium started to implement its project, Hadia heard that an organisation was registering volunteers for the Cash-for-Work activity. Driven by the need to find a way to generate income, she “hurriedly signed up for the program through a community committee”. She registered for the activity and was selected based on the terms and criteria set by ACF. 

Ninewa #2
© Action contre la Faim Irak

She “was very excited to work” as she knew she would help her family with the money earned. She also mentioned that she greatly benefitted from the training provided by the consortium. When asked how this project helped her, she stated “The CFW program helped me and my family a lot, as we were able to get many of the basic goods and services in life, such as clothes and food, with the money I got for the work.” She also felt useful and gained in self-confidence as she felt her job had an impact by working in cleaning and painting the streets, the cityscape has become more beautiful, a woman can work in all areas of life and can provide assistance to her family and help them save money in order to live in dignity.”

mahmood’S story

 

Mahmood is 51 years old and lives in Al-Ba’aj (Ba’aj district, Ninewa governorate) with the 11 members of his household, on which six are students going to school.  

Mahmood is the sole breadwinner of his family. He was the owner of a small business, which barely allowed him and his family to meet their needs. However, the war and the ISIS occupation stopped the majority of trade in the city, leading to hardship to work and have a salary. Of the conflict, he recalls “Troubled days passed on me, during the crisis in which I lived with my family, days filled with fear and terror” 

But the end of the conflict did not bring the revival Mahmood had hoped for, he needed to work to support his family, but his small business was not working well and was not making good profits, while the possibility of finding another job was non-existent. This situation created a deep sense of anxiety as he watched his family go without basic necessities product. 

 

One day, he was notified during a meeting, that ACF would share a link on social media enabling to register to receive small project support grant. Mahmood registered and applied to be selected for this initiative. He recalls that ACF staff visited his home in order to get more information about his family and his living situation, while explaining the selection criteria. 

Ninewa #1 © Action contre la Faim Irak

“I was very concerned about getting the grant because there was competition and there are many financially weak people in the region” he stated. When he was selected for the grant, he felt overjoyed as he needed this support to expand, develop his project and obtain profits to improve his family situation. 

The training allowed him to learn new topics related to trade, and life-skills, he stated that he “benefited from the trainings and used these skills effectively” while building his project. 

The initiative provided by the Consortium allowed him to develop his project and to provide goods and services needed in his city, which allowed him to increase his sales and profit. He stated: “I am able to provide support for my wife and children. I will return home carrying my family’s needs with me. This is the happiness that I hope will continue. 

 

LIFE AFTER THE CONFLICT  

 

It is recognized that food security and economic recovery form together the backbone of long-term post-conflict stability. Although the conflict has ended, sources of instability remain across Iraq, with economic stagnation affecting nearly every aspect of Iraqi society. An increasing number of Iraqis are being forced to rely on negative coping strategies, including falling into debt, switching to less expensive (nutritious) foods and consuming fewer meals per day, to deal with the lack of livelihood opportunities. 

The war against ISIS has severely impacted the livelihood of people in Ninewa, Salah Al-Din, Diyala and Suleymaniah governorate, has put a heavy toll of the population living there, who were forced to flee and abandon their assets and property behind them. These internally displaced populations have largely ended up in camps inside the country. 

The end of the war, as well as the government’s announcement in late 2020 of the closure of the camps, created new waves of displacement. Most of the populations returned to their areas of origin without any means to generate incomes, most of their assets (land, livestock, stores) having been destroyed by the conflict. 

Most of the vulnerable population in this four governorate are now leaving under the poverty line due to lack of incomeThis has resulted in a large number of households implementing negative coping mechanisms such as reducing the quantity of meals and rationing the number of meals, as well as selling their assets in order to obtain basic commodities. 

 

SUPPORT RECENT RETURNEES 

 

Between August 2021 and February 2022, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) – in consortium with COOPI, and two national organizations (namely HIO and YAO) – intervened in Ninewa, Salah Al-Din, Diyala and Suleymaniah governorate in order to respond to the livelihoods needs of IDPs and recent returnees by revitalizing the local business environment with a special focus on women and youth. 

This project targeting IDPs, returnees in critical shelter and recent returnees living in urban and peri-urban informal settlements of Ba’aj, Tooz Khurmato, Sulaymaniyah Markez and Khanaqin aimed at responding to the immediate livelihoods needs of the most vulnerable by providing temporary employment to 572 people, while also contributing to restoring the economic environment through the provision of small grants for enterprises for 82 women and youth-led businesses 

 

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