“Despite the challenges it faces, Iraq has been able to implement a comprehensive program to reform the social protection system, which has helped to promote social stability and strengthen resilience at the community level,” said a report from the Bank, which was read by All Iraq.
“Iraq has expanded the implementation of social protection activities in order to implement efficiently targeted programs that support livelihoods in fragile societies,” he said. “Mechanisms for the effective engagement of citizens are critical to the implementation of community development programs to promote social cohesion and promote Trust between the citizen and the state. ”
“In times of conflict or after the fighting, it becomes increasingly important to respond to the urgent and emerging needs of the people who have suffered from conflict to build resilience and support the recovery efforts of disadvantaged families. These efforts also play an important role, Building confidence between citizens and the state. ”
“Iraq provides a good example of how to do this. Despite the challenging environment, including the recent military campaign to recover large tracts of land seized by [Da’ash], Iraq has managed in the last few years to implement a comprehensive program To reform social protection, which contributed to social stability “.
“This Iraqi program included the preparation of the strategic road map for social protection in Iraq, the poverty reduction strategy and a program of rapid interventions in the newly liberated areas in order to mitigate the impact of the conflict on the current population and returnees.”
The World Bank was “a strategic partner and prime minister of the Iraqi government in its efforts in this regard.”
A senior Iraqi delegation visited the World Bank headquarters to discuss the Iraq experience.
The highlight of the visit was a meeting held on 2 November under the leadership of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mohammed Shi’a al-Sudani [via videoconference from the World Bank office in Baghdad] and World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Hafez Ghanem.
The Minister of Labor reviewed the important reforms introduced at the level of social protection in Iraq and presented a vision of the support that Iraq still needs from the World Bank to achieve its vision of a comprehensive system of social protection including social safety nets, social security and labor market policies, all of which will help build capacity To withstand and mitigate the impact of future shocks.
On the sidelines of the meeting, al-Sudani praised the bank’s support “as a key tool in achieving much-needed reforms.”
“We are preparing several projects to expand our activities and implement efficient targeting programs to support livelihoods in fragile communities,” he said.
The Sudanese minister said that in addition to social protection programs, the government was working on ways to promote job creation, and Iraq is planning to “promote the program of activating work as a way out of poverty for all Iraqis.”
Hafiz Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, reiterated the World Bank’s commitment to supporting the Iraqi government to provide a direct response to the emerging needs of the newly liberated areas, stressing the importance of these efforts in “promoting social cohesion”.
Ghanem said the bank believes that programs for the development of war-torn or conflict-torn countries must be “community-based” and include “robust mechanisms to engage citizens”.
These mechanisms provide “a platform to address the root causes of violence and promote long-term trust between citizens and the state.”
Iraq embarked on its social reforms by adopting a new Social Protection Act in April 2014. The Act aims to increase the efficiency of the various assistance programs by changing the eligibility criteria for cash assistance from the system of class targeting to a poverty-based targeting system using the Alternative Income Test Increase coverage and reduce inclusion and exclusion errors.
Where household income or wealth data are not available, this methodology uses other indicators, such as family size, living conditions and ownership of durable goods, to determine eligibility for assistance.
The law established a social protection committee to oversee the implementation of reforms.
In November of the same year, the Government of Iraq adopted the Roadmap for the Social Protection Strategy 2015-2019.
The strategy includes the expansion of social programs, and has included a large-scale outreach campaign to prepare the population for these changes.
In 2015, about 1,250 social workers were contracted and underwent case management training courses. Visits to 900,000 families have been conducted to verify eligibility.
Data verification and scrutiny led to the exclusion of 140 undeveloped families, but the number of beneficiary households increased from 850,000 in 2016 to 100,000 in 2017 and 55 per cent of households were headed by women.
The amount of monthly cash assistance received by needy families rose from $ 70 to $ 150 on average.
The overall budget for social assistance in Iraq increased from 1.3 trillion Iraqi dinars to 1.9 trillion Iraqi dinars, and a social welfare database was put in place, with 1.5 million households registered.
A number of other initiatives included reform of the social protection sector, including an integrated social security law that integrates public and private pension pensions to stimulate cross-sectoral transition, and includes standard reforms to financial sustainability.
As well as a pilot conditional cash transfer program launched in Baghdad, which provides incentives for households to invest in human capital [maternal and child health care, enrollment and school attendance]. ”
In addition to providing cash assistance and services through social workers to provide urgent assistance to newly liberated areas and returnees from Internally displaced persons and mechanisms to address grievances in order to allow people to file complaints when they face abusive services or abuses.
Moving forward, the work of the World Bank will address issues that intersect with social protection reform, such as poverty, gender and vulnerability, and will focus on strengthening the capacity of government institutions to implement reforms.