UNDP-Shell Partnership

Project Summary

 Nazeer, 37, owner of a carpentry workshop, received financial support and capacity building to enlarge his business through the Livelihood Project under UNDP Shell Partnership, Basra. Photo: Farah Sayegh/UNDP Iraq/2016


In March 2012, UNDP partnered with the leading oil company, Shell, to launch an initiative to build participatory planning and local area development capacity and implement respective activities in communities near the Majnoon Oil Field in the Governorate of Basra, South of Iraq. The partnership also aimed to enable high quality vocational training (VT) and micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) environment. The oil and gas sector remains the largest in Iraq’s economy. Therefore, short- and medium-term partnerships with the private sector, particularly with the international oil companies as the largest investors in the country, was seen as key in enhancing skills and promoting employment, in addition to building stronger, more competitive and inclusive markets.

The objective of this project is to enhance the local economy. However, the actual implementation has the opportunity to generate employment, provide capacity development, and transfer skills to local firms, contractors, suppliers, service providers, and artisans, and thereby also stimulate local economic development.

After public consultations in Basra’s sub-district of Al Nashwa, UNDP identified a significant lack of economic opportunities, which became a primary concern. Years of war and sanctions resulted in a lack of quality education and adequate skills for the labour market, thus leading to high unemployment. The communities in the area also suffer from poor health care services, lack of access to education, unreliable electricity supplies and inadequate water and sanitation provision.

To benefit the local communities where they are present, Shell and other international oil companies operating in Basra and throughout Iraq work with the Government of Iraq (GoI) and local authorities to hire Iraqi nationals. During the peak construction phase of the Shell operated Majnoon Oil Field located in the north of Basra, 2,850 Iraqi nationals worked on the project.

As sustainability and economic growth of local economies is part of Shell’s global mandate, Shell Iraq aims to share the benefits of its operations by developing the local economy in Basra. Through training programmes, such as English language training, and technical capacity building initiatives, economic and livelihood opportunities are enhanced for the local community. 

Through its Inclusive Growth and Private Sector Development (IGPSD) cluster, UNDP’s four-year partnership with Shell Iraq comes in line with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and UNDP’s mandate to the GoI, targeting enabling policy and frameworks for rapid economic recovery, inclusive and diversified growth and private sector development

The partnership consists of two main components: 

1.          Local Area Development for Majnoon Oil Field Communities (LAD Majnoon) that addresses local priorities in communities surrounding the Majnoon Oil Field, and supports the institutionalisation of an inclusive participatory process in local area planning.

2.          Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise and Vocational Training Programme (MSME/VT) that provides vocational training and local business development aimed at building the capacity of the local workforce and small and medium enterprises, with both financial and non-financial support.

The LAD Majnoon component includes a range of programmes to improve the quality of basic services for the residents of Basra. Through its partnership with Shell, UNDP is able to develop more inclusive and participatory planning processes, where communities and local authorities are able to identify their own development needs and priorities. A number of sustainable community development engagements have been implemented to address the priorities expressed by the communities. Those include school rehabilitations, construction of playgrounds and various needs assessments.

The MSME/VT component incorporates ‘hard’ skills training to equip Iraqi men, women and youth and existing small and medium enterprises to respond to the needs of the oil and gas industry and its supply chain sectors (e.g. construction sector). UNDP and Shell’s sustainable and inclusive approach aims at improving the local economy and providing greater opportunities for income generation, poverty reduction, and a more highly skilled local workforce. 

Within the partnership, UNDP retains the organization’s special focus on a human rights based approach that safeguards access to equitable and essential services for all citizens. It further provides a space for all stakeholders, including vulnerable and marginalised groups, to voice their views and priorities, and participate in local development decision making.

Gender-balanced participatory processes are also encouraged in the analysis of challenges and constraints to local development and poverty alleviation, and in formulating local development initiatives and delivery of essential services. UNDP-Shell Partnership is also advocating for women’s equal access to public financial resources and decision-making processes.

What we have achieved so far


LAD Majnoon

Sub-District Development Planning

  • Consultation process and village profiles for the sub-districts of Al Nashwa and Al Dair, for the identification of developmental priorities;
  • Developed Three-year Sub-District Development Plans for Al Nashwa and Al Dair; and 
  • Sub-District Development Plans for the annual planning process of Basra Governorate.

Economic Development Initiatives

  • Women’s Economic Empowerment Assessment for Al Dair; 
  • Date Palm Assessment for Al Nashwa;
  • Market assessment and financial and non-financial support to 17 businesses under Micro-Business Start-Up and Livelihoods Project (2013-2015); and
  • Shell’s CEO Award of Excellence for social performance for the Micro-Business Start-Up and Livelihoods Project.

Safer Children, Safer Roads Project

  • Two pedestrian crossings and speed bumps as pilot projects for two schools in Al Nashwa;
  • Construction of four playgrounds with football pitches in Al Nashwa and Al Dair;
  • Rehabilitation of three primary schools in Al Nashwa and Al Dair, including sanitation facilities; and
  • Major rehabilitation and construction of additional classrooms and facilities for Al-Jawadain School in Al-Dair.



Schneller School Vocational Training

  • 30 unemployed youth from Al Nashwa and Al Dair trained in welding, carpentry and plumbing at Schneller School in Jordan; and
  • 30 trainees participated in six-month work placement with Shell contractors in Basra, where most of whom have obtained employment opportunities.

Shell Sub-Contractor Capacity Building Project

  • 38 employees of South Oil Company and Shell contractors received and internationally accredited English language course; and
  • 62 employees of South Oil Company and Shell contractors received Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) training course accredited by the United Kingdom’s National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH).


Funding information

Shell made a contribution of US$7,932,202 to both LAD Majnoon and MSME/VT under the partnership.

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