Cash-for-work, a boost for vulnerable displaced families

Cash-for-work Khanke camp near Dohuk
Cash-for-work in Khanke camp near Dohuk: “This job is like a breath of fresh air” © UNDP/Denise Jeanmonod

For Murad, 41, a father of seven, the worst part of being internally displaced was to endure being jobless for more than six months. “We are tens of thousands seeking any kind of manual labour in the Governorate of Dohuk."

Highlights

  • Cash-for-work activities in camps provided temporary income to 2,360 displaced persons
  • 400 women received cash-for-work for health-related awareness activities in distribution centres
  • Some 2,950 trainees in non-camp settings accessed to other short-term job opportunities

“In the Sinjar, I had a house and a job; I was transporting passengers,”  he told us. “When I was forced to flee in August 2014, the militants have taken everything we had.”

Then UNDP’s local partner, the non-government organization KURDS, offered short-term opportunities to some displaced workers for building an underground canal for waste water in the camp of Khanke. “This job is like a breath of fresh air,” he told us.

In the face of Iraq's humanitarian emergency with 2.5 million displaced people, UNDP engaged with several local non-government organizations such as KURDS, ACTED and the Danish Refugee Council, to offer short-term job opportunities particularly for public works improving camp basic social infrastructure. These cash-for-work activities provided temporary income to 2,360 displaced persons in camps in 2014.

Ali, 45, was belonging to the police forces in Mosul until the town fell in the hands of the insurgents in June 2014. They blew off his house, which threw his family of nine on the roads towards Erbil.

Seven months later, while attending a short masonry course preparing for the construction of an extension of Baharka camp, he was not yet sure how he could restart his life. “There is nothing for us here,” he said sadly. “What did you learn?” we asked. Then, a smile: “To build a house, Inch’ Allah.”

While most jobs involve manual labour and thus employ men, their entire families benefit from the short-term income they bring in.

Kasim, 24, was a plumber in Mosul. As the only bread earner of a family of eight, he joined cash-for-work activities in Baharka. “I was struggling to get daily labour on construction sites in Erbil and spending most of my wages in transportation costs,” he said. “Now, I can help improve the camp, and also give more money to my parents.”

In 2014, cash-for-work activities helped build camp infrastructure such as shelters, bathrooms and sewerage systems, whilst 400 women received cash-for-work for health-related awareness activities in distribution centres. Some 2,950 trainees in non-camp settings also accessed to various short-term opportunities.

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