CSO Peer Knowledge Exchange in Iraq

27 Feb 2014

imageCivil society activists share experiences. ©UNDP

Peer knowledge exchange is a powerful learning tool.

This was demonstrated during the “2nd CSO Peer Knowledge Exchange Workshop” UNDP organized in Erbil from 25 to 27 February 2014. “I have learned as much from my Peer as from the external facilitators of the event” says Mr. Ali Jassim of the Iraqi Institute for Development, “looking back at our old work I know that I am now better equipped to make a case for my organization and deliver results for our community”.

This event is the second of its kind to bring together 31 CSOs to exchange experiences and learn from each other. CSOs were given a rare opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned with their peers. Peer learning also went beyond CSOs as thanks to the links created by this event, representatives of the Federal NGO Directorate and the Kurdistan Region NGO Department decided to initiate formal coordination discussions for the first time. Both Directorates have a wealth of experience and deal with common issues that would greatly benefit from this expanded coordination. Grant mechanisms, electronic registration processes and administrative structures were some of the points discussed.

CSOs, parliament representatives and NGO Directorate representatives (both representing the Federal level and the Kurdistan Regional level) were able to dialogue over a draft amendment to the current NGO Law that plans to include a provision for state budget grant funding. Representatives of Local Government also gave a good account of their perspective on relations with NGOs particularly for local service delivery.

On the CSO side, Mr. Jalil Khalil Muhammed Project Manager at Al Noor Universal Foundation explained how their interaction with their Local Government in Diyala has led to bringing attention on the underserved situation of the remote Al Abbara area. Engaging in a dialogue over local service delivery performance and 10,000 satisfaction questionnaires led to the identification of this issue. Thanks to this civil society – local authorities’ partnership, initiatives for road paving and cleaning campaigns have already taken place in Al Abbara with further plans for service delivery improvements.

Ajial Association for Intelligence and Creation Development shared their work in spreading the Participatory Rapid Appraisal method, particularly to identify women’s needs. Their work had a positive side result where men came forward seeing that they had similar needs as women, notably regarding literacy in rural areas and were then able to benefit from this woman-led initiative.

Internal organizational capacities of CSOs were also discussed. Salam Al Rafidain Organization shared an interesting experience where the UNDP grant they received led to an internal reflection process about human resources capacity gaps. To address this issue the CSO established and internal staff capacity development programme looking to address both qualitative and quantitative issues. Ultimately, the CSO feels is motivating their staff to work harder on their project to improve awareness on minority rights in Iraq.

This event was part of the UNDP project “Empowering CSOs in Iraq” were we are working with a group of 31 CSOs with a grant programme and capacity development activities. This project is implemented in cooperation with the CSO Committee of the Council of Representatives and UNOPS, with support from the Danish and Swedish cooperation agencies through the Iraq UNDAF Trust Fund.


Teresa Benito

Group of 31 CSO participants from all over Iraq