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Economic Relief, Recovery, And Resilience Assessment For Southern Iraq

10 June 2021 — By Khalil ElHariri and Sebastien Duhaut

The profile of Southern Iraq varies from that of the Northern ‘conflict-affected’ governorates most heavily impacted by the conflict with the Islamic State between 2014-2017. Southern Iraq has seen chronic underinvestment since the 1980s, with cumulative impacts building across the Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War, sectarian marginalization from 1991 under the government of Saddam Hussein, and finally the effects of the latest cycles of conflict between 2003 and present. Southern Iraq is home to the country’s highest poverty rates, and four of the country’s poorest governorates. From 2015 onward, Southern Iraq has gained public attention for large-scale protests spurred by the lack of service provision and economic opportunity. At this stage of Iraq’s post-conflict recovery, to achieve stabilization and development, it is critical to take a needs-driven approach to expand assistance across Iraq’s southern governorates. This is even more important given the broad economic impacts of COVID-19 across Iraq as a whole. The assessment included a desk review, exploring the structure of the economy in Southern Iraq, followed by Key Informant Interviews, a household survey and an enterprise survey. The study found that 80 per cent of the South’s population are socio-economically vulnerable, half the population have no formal education and enterprises in the South struggle to compete.