- Improved humanitarian coordination, IM and reporting.
- Completion of a major DRR study with UNDP BCPR following high-level workshop with senior Iraqi Government officials in Baghdad.
- Expanded HRF, helping fund 43 emergency projects for vulnerable Iraqis at a value of around $7.3 million.
Despite an often difficult working environment in 2009, OCHA managed a significant increase in staffing levels. OCHA recruited and deployed 35 national Iraq Field Coordinators (IFCs) and Information Management Officers (IMOs) across all 18 governorates. This significantly improved OCHA Iraq’s ability to facilitate humanitarian coordination at the governorate level, manage information and undertake monitoring and reporting.
Activities included collecting data to help identify existing gaps in governorate-level responses to national disasters such as floods, drought and landslides, and in Government-run health, education and water facilities. There were spot checks and assessments on the impacts of drought at the governorate level, and monitoring and evaluation visits to sites where projects supported by the Expanded Humanitarian Response Fund (ERF) were implemented.
In September and December 2009, the IFCs and IMOs participated in two training workshops to build their capacity in coordination, networking, reporting, monitoring and support to the ERF. OCHA also contributed to the work of the Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit through direct management oversight and personnel support, which further enhanced the strategic use of information.
Throughout 2009, nearly all of Iraq continued to be designated as United Nations Security Phase 4, with Anbar, Wassit and Diyala remaining at Phase 5. International staff in all United Nations agencies, including OCHA, continued to be largely confined to the International Zone in Baghdad, the United Nations Compound in Erbil and other hubs established by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). These restrictions, coupled with the shortage of ‘slots’ (or beds) in Baghdad and Erbil, have limited OCHA’s presence in Iraq to a maximum of three or four international staff at any one time. However, security gradually appeared to improve in 2009, with incidents down by 85 per cent compared with August 2007. The improved security situation enabled national staff from United Nations agencies, including OCHA, as well as NGOs to gain access to many outlying and hard-to-reach areas to better assess and respond to humanitarian needs.
Following the June 2008 external evaluation of the ERF, OCHA Iraq implemented improvements in ERF management. Revisions were made in the ERF Charter, enabling quicker processing of proposals and improved systems for monitoring and quality assurance. In 2009, the ERF funded 43 emergency projects for vulnerable Iraqis at around $7.32 million. Around 58 per cent of these projects were in the shelter and water and sanitation sectors, and implemented by 36 Iraqi NGOs and seven international NGOs. OCHA conducted three ERF training sessions for 120 Iraqi NGOs, explaining the ERF Charter and providing guidance on the ERF application process, needs assessment and results-based management to ensure better monitoring.
In September 2009, the joint OCHA/UNDP BCPR study on DRR was completed, resulting in three reports: A Strategic Framework for Natural Disaster and Risk Reduction in Iraq; Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction in Iraq; and Action Plan for Implementing Disaster Risk Reduction Initiatives in Iraq. Following this, a high-level workshop chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General was held in Baghdad in December 2009, with senior-level Iraqi Government officials, UNCT members, Iraqi Red Crescent Society and UNDP (BCPR). This led to first moves by the Iraqi Government to establish an Iraq National Disaster Management Authority under the Prime Minister’s Office and to draft a law for DRR coordination in Iraq.The UNCT has continued to use the Sector Outcome Team (SOT) as the key mechanism for development and humanitarian cooperation, rather than using multiple coordination structures. ‘SOT’ rather than ‘cluster’ remains the preferred nomenclature. OCHA Iraq continued to support and participate in the SOTs during 2009.
OCHA delivered three training sessions in 2009 to SOT leads, covering the CAP 2009 MYR, the ERF operations, including project selection criteria and needs assessments, and IAU tools (3W, EmergencyInfo database and SOT file management). NGOs and other partners also continued to be represented and actively participate in SOT and sub-SOT planning and response activities in Amman, Baghdad and Erbil.In December 2009, the UNCT for Iraq agreed to reconstitute the HCT for Iraq in early 2010. Complementing the HCT is the Baghdad Humanitarian Coordination Group, which continued to meet monthly throughout 2009 to discuss emerging humanitarian concerns and coordinate responses, as needed.
While gender has been mainstreamed throughout OCHA Iraq’s programmes, specific strategies are in place within the ERF to make gender considerations a key part of the approval process for funding projects. This includes responding to the needs of vulnerable groups, in particular female-headed households. Another important gender-specific initiative was producing a short documentary on vulnerable groups in Iraq, including women, and how they have been affected by conflict.
All OCHA and IAU reports published in 2009 included gender-specific information. IAU's Labour Force Analysis highlighted Iraq's low female labour force participation rate, while OCHA's Humanitarian Update emphasized women’s particular vulnerability to poverty and food insecurity. IAU produced a fact sheet on Iraqi women for International Women's Day, which included data on female illiteracy, domestic violence and United Nations projects aimed at improving gender relations. Research has also been conducted on gender-based violence for United Nations internal strategic and planning purposes.
During 2009, IAU identified more than 200 relevant indicators for Iraq, disaggregated by gender, age and urban/rural locations. This information was disseminated in various reports and tools including the Common Country Assessment, the Iraq HAP, governorate profiles, IAU Info, fact sheets and other products.