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ASB-Hilfsmissionen in Guatemala
Iraq | ASB Foreign Aid

Promotion of agricultural production and livelihoods in Ninawa | Iraq

The project was aimed at residents, especially farmers, of the rural project region of the districts Talafar, Zummar and Sinjar, which were heavily affected by the conflict with ISIS, as well as returnees who have returned to their places of origin. In order to strengthen smallholder farmers in Ninawa province, Iraq, activities focused on ensuring food and income security and promoting the well-being of all inhabitants. A total of 2,248 households (16,635 people) were able to benefit from measures to improve food security and income security, and 8,251 households (55,769 people) have gained access to the Al-Jazeera irrigation system to irrigate their land.

The project

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    Project title: Strengthening the resilience of conflict-affected residents and returnees in newly accessible areas by improving food security, livelihoods and solidarity

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    Project region: Ninawa province, Sinjar and Talafar districts

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    Project volume: € 1.7 million

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    Financing: BMZ transitional aid

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    Duration: 18/08/2017 - 31/08/2020

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    Target group: Local communities, returnees, IDPs, farmers The target group of the project comes from various ethnic and religious groups. Beneficiaries include Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Yazidis and Christians who live in the project area and were affected by the conflict with ISIS

The project was implemented in the rural northwest of the Iraqi province of Ninawa. This is a region that has suffered extensive damage during the ISIS occupation and during the fighting to liberate it, as well as massive displacements and the loss of all financial assets both on the private household and government levels. In addition, atrocities committed in the conflict also have long-term effects on the social fabric and cohesion of the population as well as between the various ethnic groups (such as Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, to name only the main groups), the consequences of which are still being felt today.

Since a large proportion of households in the project region were engaged in agriculture and related activities before the crisis, the revitalisation of the agricultural sector is crucial. This has improved food production, secured livelihoods and restored resilience to the rural Iraqi population in Ninawa province.

How the ASB is helping in Iraq

Restoring irrigated agriculture and increasing agricultural production


The ASB has been working on three sets of measures to achieve the objective:

  1. Irrigated agriculture in connection with the Al-Jazeera irrigation project.
  2. Agriculture with well irrigation systems that are independent of the Al-Jazeera canal system.
  3. Training courses for farmers

The extensive repairs to canals and locks enabled the connection of a total of 270,150 dunam of land to the irrigation system. As a result, 58 villages are connected to Al-Jazeera’s irrigation system via an intact canal system. Of these, 44 villages actively use running water for irrigated agriculture, benefiting 8,251 households.

Food security and income generation


A total of 1,213 farms, particularly poor residents and returning families, received materials for use in agriculture such as seeds, seedlings, tools and irrigation systems for greenhouses, open-air cultivation and home gardens and orchards. In addition, they received training on modern agricultural methods, marketing and financial management.

These measures have enabled farmers to increase their irrigated areas a hundredfold and to increase agricultural production by an average of 40%.

The combination of training courses and high-quality operating resources enabled farmers to implement new techniques and practices directly in their farms. By using drip irrigation, resilient seeds, crop diversification, plant-based fertilisers, accounting and sensible reinvestment, they could work in a more resource-efficient and risk-sensitive manner, while increasing crop yields and productivity. This led not only to a better nutritional situation for the beneficiaries, but also for the inhabitants of the project region, who benefited from the products sold on the markets.

Supporting women in agriculture


Since agriculture in the project region is mainly done by men, the project aimed to support women in the agricultural sector in particular and to give them access to work in agriculture as the main source of income. Initially, there were difficulties in recruiting women into farming activities. But culturally appropriate strategies to overcome the obstacles have been successfully developed.

To facilitate women’s access, activities have been expanded in home gardens and orchards, and training has been provided in ethnically and religiously mixed but gender-segregated groups. This approach, developed in cooperation with the female beneficiaries, has proved successful. Women could be integrated into economic activities in a socially and culturally accepted way. This will enable them to improve their food security and, in some cases, even to earn their own income.

Promoting social cohesion


As the project is taking place in an unstable region of ethnic tension, with a history of displacement and conflict between different ethnic groups, peace-building and reconciliation have been integrated as an important element in all activities. The main conflicts are between the ethnic groups: Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds and Yazidis, which represent the largest population groups in the project region. In larger settlements such as Talafar and Zummar, ethnic groups are mixed, while in some smaller project villages mainly one ethnic group is represented.

A conference on strengthening peace and social cohesion was held with 47 influential people and representatives of the different ethnicities (11 women, 36 men) from the project communities and contributed to the networking of the actors. Obstacles to ethnic and religious tolerance in the project region were discussed together and a common strategy was agreed on in the areas of conflict reduction and social cohesion. For their part, the local leaders have implemented events in their sphere of influence and have shared the findings with family members, colleagues and community members. After years of mistrust stemming from the ISIS occupation and the genocide of Yazidis, this shows the willingness of local leaders to be in the forefront of advocating change, changing perceptions and building trust.

A total of 889 community leaders, influential figures and other groups such as teachers, students, households run by women, community members of the various ethnic and religious groups have received training in conflict resolution. This contributed to reducing misunderstandings and increasing mutual acceptance.

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