Scramble to Contain new Animal Virus Outbreak

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi health authorities scramble to contain new animal virus outbreak

Viral hemorrhagic fever is spread by contact with animals and can constitute a "public health emergency of international concern."

Click here to read the full article.

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WFP Iraq Country Brief

WFP Iraq Country Brief, March 2022

In Numbers

  • 710,492 people assisted in March 2022
  • US$ 2.25 million distributed in March 2022 through cash-based transfers
  • 1,686 mt of in-kind assistance distributed
  • US$ 39.4 million six months net funding requirements (April - September 2022)

Operational Updates

  • In March, WFP provided cash and food assistance to 182,152 internally displaced persons (IDPs), 68,419 refugees, and 8,118 people from vulnerable communities through resilience building initiatives. Through the School Feeding Programme, WFP supported 451,803 children.
  • WFP's resilience-building initiatives continue to provide smallholder farmers with the support they need in order to improve their production and increase crop yields. In Ninewa governorate, WFP provided greenhouses, beehives, cattle and seeds to 325 farmers who utilize the knowledge and expertise shared by WFP to provide a sustainable livelihood for themselves and their families.
  • WFP collaborated with the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources to organize the second Annual Baghdad International Water Conference, to help highlight and provide solutions to the issues of climate change and water scarcity facing Iraq's people and agriculture. WFP presented its latest data and findings on the issue to support the government of Iraq with its Green Paper to address these serious challenges.
  • In its continued efforts to support Iraq's youth, and confront climate change, WFP provided a new solar power system for the Career Development Centre at the University of Sulaymaniyah. The solar energy provided now effectively meets the electricity gap during power cuts or shortages, enabling seamless support to youth in need as they take part in the EMPACT (Empowerment in Action) project. Participation in this project supports students with relevant training in English, digital skills and entrepreneurship that enables them to find work opportunities, start small businesses and provide an income.
  • In collaboration with the University of Sulaymaniyah and German creative design platform JOVOTO, WFP celebrated the three young EMPACT graduates Aisha, Mohammed and Kawther, whose designs revolving around the EMPACT project won the first, second and third prizes respectively, in the first design innovation joint competition.
  • For International Women's Day on 8 March, Urban Livelihoods participant and trainer Nada was invited by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Baghdad to visit from Basra, to participate in a special event to speak about her journey and experience. The impact of WFP's Urban Livelihoods programme, implemented across southern Iraq and Ninewa, is apparent through star participants such as Nada. She attended the programme, then taught photography skills that she acquired from her training, quickly became a social entrepreneur, leader of a prolific youth creative group, and role model for her contemporaries in Basra.
  • Under the School Feeding Programme funded and coimplemented by the Government of Iraq, WFP organized several workshops and training sessions to further develop the capacity of the Ministry of Education, to be able to successfully implement the programme independently in the future, while WFP continues providing technical and logistics support and expertise. These included three Training of Trainers (ToT) sessions, three capacity building workshops and a Food Quality Control workshop that was delivered in cooperation with WFP's Regional Bureau.
  • As part of the joint Social Protection Programme with the government and UN partners, WFP held three consultation workshops for more than 80 Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government staff members and key Ministerial participants. The workshops produced a roadmap for establishing a Single Registry based on multi-stakeholder discussions. The workshops also initiated dialogue on the improvement of Iraq's social protection schemes with special focus on the public distribution system for food rations (PDS). In addition to multiple Ministry representatives, the workshops were attended by UNICEF, ILO, World Bank, GIZ and UNHCR.
  • Representatives of Canada and Germany visited Sharya IDP camp in Duhok and met with a number of displaced families to discuss their situation, reasons that prohibit their return to their homes, and ongoing needs.
  • In light of the rise in food prices as a result of the RussianUkrainian conflict, WFP temporarily increased its cash transfer value to vulnerable IDPs living in Jadaa-5 camp to mitigate the effects and ensure that families are not affected.

The full report can be downloaded here.

(Source: ReliefWeb)

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Half of Families in Drought-Affected Iraq need Assistance

One in two families in drought-affected Iraq need food assistance

The scale of suffering inflicted by drought on Iraq's populations this year is laid bare in new research by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

It shows that one in two families in drought-affected regions require food assistance because of drought, while one in five do not have sufficient food for everyone in the family.

Communities across Iraq have faced damaging losses to their crops, livestock, and income. Children are eating less, and farmers and displaced populations are hit hardest.

According to NRC's research, which surveyed 2,800 households in drought-affected areas across the country:

  • 37% of wheat farmers and 30% of barley farmers have suffered crop failure of at least 90% of expected harvest,
  • 37% percent of households have lost cattle, sheep or goats in the last six months, mainly due to insufficient water, inadequate feed or disease,
  • The average monthly income in six out of seven governorates surveyed has dropped lower than the monthly survival threshold.[i]

Samira*, 46, has returned from displacement to Mosul to farm her land with two of her five children, but has already seen reductions in produce. "Our production has decreased due to water shortage recently, which also led to a decrease in our income... I can't afford the necessary food for my family so I borrow money from my relatives or buy food on credit," she told NRC.

Over the past few years, drought conditions, rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall have reflected the growing threat of climate change in the country. Water flow from upstream countries has also receded.

"Our harvest has dropped due to drought. Our land was thriving but now it is losing its value day after day and no one seems to care about what farmers are facing. Our land used to produce 20 tonnes each season, now it's no more than 10 or 11 tonnes," said Osama, a 27-year-old farmer from Hawija.

Such extreme circumstances have forced people to leave their home, compounding the displacement crisis in Iraq. Of those surveyed, 1 in 15 households told NRC that a family member had migrated in the last 30 days in search of work and income. Many of those had been in displacement at least once before, or had just returned home. Young people are particularly vulnerable as our research shows that 45% of people aged 15-24 had left their farming communities to find a job in towns and cities, while 38% have lost a job.

The outlook for 2022 is worrying, with continued water shortages and drought conditions likely to devastate the coming farming season. This may increase families' reliance on purchased water as well as poor hygiene practices, which could lead to disease outbreaks. There are signs of waves of displacement already taking place amid water scarcity, income losses, and rising food prices within farming communities.

"Families are telling us they have to borrow money to eat amid soaring prices and dwindling savings. They say their only source of living is vanishing in front of their eyes. Their lands are drying up and there is nothing they can do about it. This is all rooted in a water shortage crisis," said Maithree Abeyrathna, NRC's Head of Programmes in Iraq.

"We want to see solid water management plans to support communities badly hit and prevent future shocks, and these plans must be informed by farmers themselves."

NRC is also calling for international assistance to support livestock farmers and provide irrigation rehabilitation and drought tolerant seeds to reduce crop failure and crop losses. The Governments of Iraq and Kurdish Regional Government are encouraged to incorporate climate-mitigation strategies within national job creation efforts and advocate for water-sharing agreements to be upheld by upstream countries to prepare for the future effects of climate change in Iraq and continued drought conditions.

*Name changed to protect identities

Read the full report here.

Facts and figures:

  • NRC interviewed 2,806 households in Anbar, Basra, Duhok, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salah Al-Din, and Thi Qar governorates.
  • 300 internally displaced people and 1,500 returnees are among the respondents.
  • An additional survey was conducted with 100 food vendors and livestock traders, as well as 48 key informant interviews with community stakeholders and authorities, namely local authority representatives and employees of the Department of Agriculture or Department of Irrigation.
  • NRC is responding by providing drought-tolerant wheat seed varieties to more than 2,000 families in Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Anbar governorates to help with crop losses and crop failure amidst ongoing drought conditions. NRC has also supported more than 200 families with cash-based livestock feed in Sinjar and Baaj.

(Source: NRC)

(Photo Credit: Fared Baram/ NRC)

The post Half of Families in Drought-Affected Iraq need Assistance first appeared on Iraq Business News.

Fighting Climate Change “an Economic Opportunity” for Iraq

Writing in the Financial Times, Iraqi President Barham Salih argues that addressing climate change represents an opportunity for Iraq and the region to introduce measures that will leave them on a more solid foundation as they face the challenges of the decades to come.

Click here to read the full article (subscription required)

(Picture: Tigris river in central Baghdad; Credit: Christian Lindgren)

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The Massive Challenge of Climate Action in Iraq

By Lizzie Porter, for The New Statesman. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The massive challenge of climate action in oil-dependent Iraq

Oil provides 90 per cent of Iraq's revenue. Even as farmland dries up, fractured governance makes reform seem almost impossible.

Click here to read the full story.

The post The Massive Challenge of Climate Action in Iraq first appeared on Iraq Business News.

IBBC’s Autumn Conference – Open for Business Engagement

IBBC's Autumn conference is back with a bang and open for business engagement.

On 22nd November this year the overarching conference topic is looking to the future with 'sustainability'- whether in terms of energy and renewables, the Iraqi economy and its diversification, or sustaining finance, logistics and training. Underpinning much of this is the application of technology and modernising ways to run a successful economy, with the tech forum's online sessions.

With a successful election now completed and a new government being formed, it's a good time to discuss the prospects for reform and sustainability.

IBBC members find that the Autumn conference is probably the best forum to meet the leaders in the region and those engaged with provision of supply chains and decision making. Many of Iraq's industry sectors have regional headquarters in Dubai, which enables the high turnout and interest in the networking opportunities.

The current speaker line-up is probably the best for some years, featuring the Iraqi Minster of Oil H.E. Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismaael giving a keynote speech, H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade. Dr Salem Chalabi, President and Chairman of the Trade Bank of Iraq, Iraqi Ambassador to the UAE H.E. Mudaffar Mustafa Al Jubouri and UK ambassador Mr Mark Bryson-Richardson, Mr Simon Penny, UK's Consul General and Trade Commissioner for the region, and top academic Professor Frank Gunter on the economic outlook for Iraq.

For those engaged with energy, Mr Zaid Elyaseri from BP will be speaking, and Dunia Chalabi will be representing new Iraqi entrants Total, who have signed contracts to invest USD 27 billion in and plan to bring in hundreds of expatriates into Iraq to develop the Ar-Ratawi oil field and build gas capture, solar power and injection water facilities. Leading figures from Oilserve, Ms Sara Akbar, and Hydro-C, Mr Hassan Heshmat, will discuss sustainable energy, and a separate session will be voted to Basrah Gas Company.

The Finance panel includes a stella line up with Emirates Credit Insurance Co, Standard Chartered Bank and IFC. Mr Aziz Khudairi heads the Industry panel and a significant group including Martrade and IBBC Autumn Conference Principal Sponsor Sardar Group.

Finally, and in parallel, an online Tech forum session on Data and its benefits to Government, Economies, business, and citizens, will include speakers from UK's GDS, British Water, Agri-epicentre, Serco and Mastercard with more to be confirmed.

Overall, the panels will be exploring in more detail how to ensure the current high oil and gas prices can bring investment and rebalance the economy and promote and develop agriculture and enhance the food chain to increase employment and reduce food poverty. These discussions will also address how to improve the water supply and waste reduction and consider the role of clean power generation in relation to climate change and initiatives to improve sustainability.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dubai, or even following us online if you are unable to make it in person.

A pre-conference reception will be held at the Iraqi Pavilion at Dubai EXPO2020 in the evening of 21st November.

Finally, we'd very much like to thank our sponsors: Principal Sponsor Sardar Group, Gold Sponsor: Hydro-C, Silver Sponsor: Serco and Reception Sponsor: Basra Gateway Terminal

(Source: IBBC)

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COVID-19 and Environmental Sustainability in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Sustainability in Iraq

Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Sustainability in Iraq is the fifth in a series released by UNDP on the impact of COVID-19 in Iraq.

It emphasizes how the pandemic has exacerbated Iraq's environmental fragility, which was already affected by legacies of conflict, lack of significant public sector and governance reforms, loss of development gains and illicit activity such as illegal hunting, fishing and logging, amongst other factors.

It outlines how the virus has led to some negative environmental impacts, such as increased quantities of medical waste, but also positive impacts, such as temporary improvements in air quality and ecosystems. It also proposes how key drivers of fragility can be addressed over time.

Click here to read the full report.

(Source: UN)

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Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum Launched; New Projects Announced

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi received a delegation of Saudi officials and business people in Baghdad on Monday.

Among the visitors was the Saudi Minister of Commerce, Acting Minister of Media, and Chairman of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi.

The delegation included businessmen representing 22 Saudi companies.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of common interest between the two countries, and ways to support and enhance them in all fields.

The two sides also signed an agreement to establish a metal silo to store wheat in Al-Diwaniya province, and a hospital in Al-Saqlawiya, Anbar province.

(Source: SPA)

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Breaking Out of Fragility: Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq

Iraq is at a crossroads. Almost two decades after the 2003 war, the country remains caught in a fragility trap, facing increasing political instability, growing social unrest, and a deepening state-citizen divide.

Amid a multitude of crises (including an oil price shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent protests) as well as a culmination of poor economic policies, a lack of reforms, and an inability to tackle corruption, Iraq is having its worst annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth performance in 2020 since the fall of the Saddam regime.

Instability, a lack of jobs, corruption, and poor service delivery remain among the most important risks to the country's long-term growth.

With every crisis comes an opportunity to reform. However, Iraq's path to reform will be challenging and uncertain. Given current oil prices and the persistent drop in global demand for oil because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country will have a tough time addressing the needs of its people in the short term.

It can, however, embark on a long but much-needed path toward structural transformation and reform, one that could leave its economy less dependent on oil and more driven by private sector activity.

The widespread protests since October 2019, which have called into the question the country's current political economy, illustrate that such path for reform can no longer be avoided. Nevertheless, as this report shows, this path will demand persistence, and Iraq will face much uncertainty as it tries to address its long-lasting challenges and change the status quo.

This report highlights what Iraq can do to sustain future growth, but it also shows why the country has not yet managed to achieve high levels of diversified growth alongside peace, stability, and a better standard of living for its people.

The report also suggests strategic pathways by which Iraq can break free from this fragility trap, in which peace and stability can create the conditions for people to fulfill their aspirations, find private sector jobs, and thrive.

In this context, the report's four chapters provide:

  1. an understanding of Iraq's underlying fragility and political economy challenges and their implications for a diversified growth model;
  2. an analysis of Iraq's growth characteristics and the country's potential for and benefits from eco¬nomic diversification;
  3. a trade diagnostic and assessment of Iraq's potential for trade and regional integration to create growth and stability; and,
  4. a review of Iraq's agriculture sector, from primary agriculture to agrifood systems, and its potential to support economic diversification, growth, and stability.

Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq (Full Report in a PDF Format)

(Source: World Bank)

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