Canada’s development assistance in Iraq

Iraq has been directly affected by the crisis in Syria and the instability perpetrated by Daesh, whose campaign of violence has resulted in the internal displacement of more than three million Iraqis. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees have also fled the violence and travelled to Iraq. Over 10 million Iraqis, or one third of the country’s population, are now in need of assistance.

Iraq has one of largest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world, and the scale of the problem has surpassed the ability of local governments and community organizations to meet the needs. This population influx is overstretching health, education and social protection services and is placing a severe strain on the local economy. Standards of living have deteriorated and a noticeable segment of the population is now living in poverty.

Canada’s response to the crisis has focused on immediate humanitarian assistance and longer-term development aid geared toward sustainability to help those most in need. As well, Canada is contributing to an improvement in security and stabilization.

Stability in Iraq can only be effectively restored by addressing the underlying causes of the crisis. Canada’s bilateral development assistance program in Iraq aims to increase the resilience of communities and government institutions, improve access to government services, and support better governance.  

Programming in Iraq is grounded in Canada’s strategy for the Middle East and North Africa and countering Daesh. The objective is to help those in the region most affected by violence. Canada aims to ease the burden on host communities and to help refugees, IDPs and others. It will support developing the capacity of local administrations to deliver services, create improved conditions for employment, and lay the foundations for stability and prosperity.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Iraq.

Thematic focus

In the beginning of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada's new strategy to address the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria, including further increases in funding over the next three years to Canada's security, stabilization, and humanitarian and development assistance programs. Complementing Canada’s humanitarian assistance, Canada’s bilateral development assistance will help to improve access to basic services (e.g. education, water) and promote economic growth, for example by enhancing employment through technical vocational education and training (TVET) that is aligned with local labour market needs. These efforts will help strengthen the resilience of communities and government institutions, including through fiscal decentralization; it will also enhance livelihood opportunities, particularly for women and youth.

Advancing democracy

Canada supports more decentralized and capable local governments that are better equipped to provide basic services for all people living in Iraq, including IDPs and refugees.

The Government of Canada believes that the solution to the Iraq crisis must be, first and foremost, political. Through a project implemented by the Institute on Governance (IOG), Canada is committed to providing support for improved governance in Iraq. The Fiscal Decentralization and Resiliency-Building for Iraq project supports a federal and democratic Iraq by working with the different levels of government to define their fiscal roles, responsibilities and accountabilities in line with the Iraqi constitution.

Key anticipated results

  • Public servants and legislators receive training and mentoring on government management and accountability.
  • Increased capacity of local Iraqi authorities to manage the humanitarian crisis and deliver basic services to the population, including those displaced by conflict.

Children and youth

Canada’s support focuses on ensuring resilient Iraqi communities are able to provide improved access to basic services, such as education and clean drinking water for all children, including refugees and IDPs. To do so Canada is helping to provide better access to formal and non-formal education to prepare children and youth to contribute to the well-being of their country over the longer term. Canada also focuses on improving community water infrastructures. 

Improved access to water

The community of Khanke in northern Iraq is hosting over 18,000 IDPs. One of the major challenges for local authorities is ensuring access to clean drinking water. Until recently, Khanke was only able to supply water to local communities and its IDP camp for two hours, three days per week. Last year, in partnership with World Vision, Canada successfully helped rehabilitate and improve Khanke’s water distribution and storage network.

Key anticipated results

  • Children and youth have better access to formal and non-formal education.
  • Educators trained in active learning and inclusive education.
  • Improved access to clean water and sanitation services for children and youth, IDPs and in host communities.
Contributing to Seurity and Stability

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Iraq (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada105.14
Other departments and sources0.04