IOM assessments highlight evolving economic needs under unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 in Iraq
Necessary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 combined with volatile oil prices and a decrease in the value of the Iraqi dinar brought an end to two years of sustained economic growth in Iraq, heavily impacting individuals and communities affected by conflict and displacement.
To ensure that livelihood programming continues to be responsive to the evolving needs of Iraqi communities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted 29 Labour Market Assessments (LMAs) - studies involving individual interviews and focus group discussions to help IOM Iraq teams better understand the realities of local markets; the hiring preferences of employers; and the skills, needs and goals of jobseekers, consumers and others.
The results of these assessments have been published alongside LMA reports from 2020 and 2019 in a collection titled Labour Market Opportunities and Challenges. They highlight the considerable livelihood needs remaining as communities recover from the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and years of conflict.
"As conditions evolve, so must our response. Together with our community consultation process, the LMA findings help us understand how we can adjust how we provide livelihoods programming to have the greatest impact, with an eye to inclusivity and sustainability," said Clementine Favier, Head of IOM Iraq's Returns and Recovery Unit.
The LMA findings identified the types of vocational training, on-the-job training and business support packages that would be most beneficial in each surveyed district, information that is already being used to focus funding and plan interventions.
The LMAs showed that 74 per cent of jobseekers preferred cash over voucher or in-kind livelihood assistance. The assessments also suggested a preference for entrepreneurship, with about 70 per cent of jobseekers preferring to run their own business over being employed in the private sector. These findings emphasize the instability of the private sector, where price hikes and informal working conditions are common.
It is estimated that Iraq's economy shrunk by 10.4 per cent in 2020, the largest contraction since 2003. This deterioration demands a robust, targeted response, particularly in areas previously occupied by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which continue to suffer from a lack of services and extensive damage to infrastructure.
Market assessments and thematic reports are also conducted for IOM's Enterprise Development Fund to further analyse emerging opportunities and challenges facing the Iraqi economy.
IOM Iraq carries out LMAs with support from the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID); KfW, the German Development Bank; and the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).