UNDP – DRC Job Seeker Support Centre reaches 10,000 beneficiaries, providing access to sustainable livelihood opportunities and resources to build individual capacity and enhanced employability.
Asma’s story of displacement spans ten years and two countries. She and her family were displaced from their home in Ramadi to neighbouring Syria in 2006 as a result of violence stemming from the 2003 Iraq war. Due to the outbreak of civil war in Syria, she and her family returned to Anbar, where they once again were forced to flee – this time from the Islamic State. Asma now lives in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) where 78 percent of IDPs require livelihoods support to meet their basic needs. Female-headed households are also one of the most vulnerable segments of the displaced population.
As the sole breadwinner of her family, Asma said she was searching for employment opportunities when she came across a brochure for the UNDP – DRC Job Seeker Support Centre in Kas Nazan. “I knew what I wanted to do from the beginning and that I was the only person to support my family,” she said. “It was difficult going through the programme, but the job centre staff welcomed me.”
After interviewing with counselors at the job centre, Asma enrolled in the business incubation model programme that identifies potential entrepreneurs in the community, helps them draft business proposals, provides matching grants to establish small enterprises, and promotes social cohesion by partnering IDPs, refugees, and host communities to capitalize on their talents. Once she successfully completed the centre’s mentorship programme, Asma established a business partnership with a member of her host community and received a grant to open a business. She now runs a restaurant where she prepares delicious Iraqi and Syrian specialties and earns an income that supports her family of seven.
With a stated aim of providing access to sustainable livelihood opportunities for IDPs, Syrian refugees and host communities, the centre has provided beneficiaries with resources to build their capacities and enhance their employability. The centre has also far exceeded expectations since it opened in August 2015 by providing employment services to over 10,000 beneficiaries, some of whom came from other cities across the KRI after hearing about the project.
An assessment of the project found that 93 percent of beneficiaries surveyed said they were able to increase their individual employability and 71 percent reported increased income stability. In addition, 100 percent said the project overall led to better social cohesion among IDPs, refugees and members of the host community.
DRC completed a handover of the job centre in November to a local organisation, Women’s Rehabilitation Organization (WRO), to foster sustainability and a sense of community ownership the project. DRC is a lead agency for livelihoods programmes across Iraq as the co-coordinating agency for the national level Emergency Livelihoods & Social Cohesion and the co-lead agency for the Livelihoods cluster.