The World Bank Group approved the Emergency Social Stabilization and Resilience Project (ESSRP), a US$200 million project that aims to improve the livelihoods of over one million Iraqi in liberated areas through the provision of cash, short-term employment, and other means of social support, namely to the most vulnerable.
As the Government of Iraq (GoI) is moving quickly back into ISIS liberated areas, the ESSRP will support the Government of Iraq in providing social support to the existing populations and returnees within the overall Iraq Social Protection Strategic Roadmap.
It will increase short-term employment and livelihood opportunities, and thus provide 150,000 households with cash for work support, benefiting about 840,000 individuals, and generating about 15,000,000 work days. The project will also increase access to psychosocial services for more than 150,000 people who will receive mental health and gender based violence assistance services to mitigate the psychological impact of the conflict on the population and would strengthen the systems to expand the provision of social safety nets.
At the same time, ESSRP will support the medium-term development of resilient social safety nets and provision of livelihood support, through financing small and micro enterprises benefiting about 12,000 households
“This project is vital for ensuring that rebuilding Iraq is not only about rebuilding brick-and-mortar infrastructure, but also about improving the lives of Iraqis and bringing social stability,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director. “This project will support individuals and households to address the impact of the recent conflict and help communities to kick-start economic activity and create more jobs.”
The project will leverage existing social workers and payment methods and would also introduce robust social accountability, citizen engagement, and grievance redress mechanisms to build social cohesion, trust, and strengthen the relationship between the central and local governments.
These mechanisms will also consider gender aspects and support for vulnerable and marginalized groups, helping to address some of the root causes of violence. The project is part of a full World Bank package of support to the reconstruction and development process in the liberated areas which focus on both the infrastructure and social dimensions.
“The project will support poverty reduction and stabilization in the liberated areas,” said H.E. Mr. Mohammed Shayaa Al-Sudani, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, “At the same time, income generating microfinance programs will allow households to restart business activities, and to create jobs in these areas.”
The project will also strengthen the resilience of social safety net programs to allow the GOI to assist poor/vulnerable groups and build resilience to shocks effectively and efficiently.
“One key component of this project is to ensure people can address existing and future shocks. This project will improve social safety net programs for 1.2 million households across Iraq. It will allow households to invest in health and education, to break the intergenerational transfer of poverty” said Ghassan Alkhoja, World Bank Senior Social Protection Specialist and Project Team Leader.