First Cash-for-work Programme in Iraq

The World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a cash-for-work programme in Iraq to help some of the poorest sections of Iraqi society earn enough money to pay for food that might otherwise be beyond their reach.

"Food insecurity in Iraq is an access problem, not an availability problem," said WFP Country Director Edward Kallon. "While there's food in the shops, not everyone can afford it and nearly a million people still need food assistance and millions more depend on government aid."

The programme is being piloted in the central Iraqi governorate of Diyala to stimulate public works, provide employment and promote food security in some of the poorest districts in the country. The pilot will be closely monitored and assessed as a model for similar programmes across Iraq.

The cash-for-work activities include the clearing and rehabilitation of sewage and irrigation canals, tree planting, rehabilitation of farmland and a sanitation campaign. Participants will be paid the Iraqi dinar equivalent of US$10 per day for a three-month period, with supervisors paid the equivalent of US$13 per day.

Beneficiaries will initially be paid in cash on a weekly basis. However, WFP is exploring the possibilities of using electronic technology, such as smart cards, to facilitate payments and reduce security risks in future programmes.

Implementation of the programme will be carried out by Mercy Corps, a WFP cooperating partner with considerable experience in managing community infrastructure programmes.

Funding of US$618,000 for the cash-for-work project has been provided by the United States.

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