PERMA (Promoting Economic Revival of Micro-businesses and Agriculture) in Al Hamdaniya, Iraq
By ALex Angulo
The urgent public health needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably drawn donors’ attention towards supporting emergency interventions to mitigate the spread and immediate impact of the virus. However, it is also critical that we do not lose focus on the multi-sector interventions that address the systemic challenges that already existed, and have been exacerbated by the virus.
For many communities around the world, COVID-19 is just one crisis on top of many others, such as armed conflict, food insecurity, lack of livelihoods, gender inequality, and climate change. Indeed, research from past pandemics show how infectious diseases have a multiplier effect by increasing the risk of armed conflict, exacerbating disease transmission and stifling public health response; as an example, Mercy Corps’ experience in West Africa with the Ebola crisis showed areas that suffered the most from the virus also observed increased civil unrest between six and nine months after the outbreak. The COVID-19 pandemic has also devastated the global economy, with an estimated 14.3 million people expected to fall below the poverty line in Arab Middle Income and Least Developed countries. In Iraq, the pandemic has dramatically increased the number of Iraqis considered economically vulnerable — now as much as half the population, as estimated by the World Bank.
Never has it been more important to invest in systemic solutions which aim to support local communities to revive a strong governance, to develop robust economies and safeguard their livelihoods; and to build bridges within and between communities to work together to achieve their collective needs.
During the 2020 Paris Peace Forum, Mercy Corps and its partners Triangle génération humanitaire and Public Aid Organisation, will be presenting its flagship programme in Iraq: Promoting Economic Revival of Micro-businesses and Agriculture (PERMA). Funded by AFD, PERMA is working to rehabilitate the agricultural sector in Al Hamdaniya in Ninewa to recover from the devastation of the conflict with ISIS. Rebuilding the agricultural industry is paramount to rebuilding Iraq; agriculture is the second largest industry, employing nearly one third of the country’s population. Ninewa, once Iraq’s most productive farming region, continues to grapple with the painful aftermath of the conflict with ISIS…