En kvinna i den kurdiska delen av Iraq röstar i parlaments- och presidentvalet 2009.

A woman in the Kurdish part of Iraq voting in parliamentary and presidential elections in 2009.

Photo: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas


Our work in Iraq

Published: 16 July 2009 Updated: 25 October 2016

Swedish aid has a strong focus on democracy and human rights as well as positive economic development. The objective is lasting peace, improved standards of living and democratic development. Due to the serious situation in the country, the decided phasing out of bilateral aid will be extended.

In 2013 the Swedish government decided to phase out bilateral aid to Iraq  Iraq being a middle-income country. Since then the situation has deteriorated considerably with the ongoing armed conflict against Daesh, increased political instability and religious conflicts, human rights violations and a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

In light of the worsening security situation, a new, multi-year country strategy will be developed. The strategy, focusing on peace and state-building and gender equality, will be launched in 2017.

Democratic governance and human rights

Sida supports projects aiming to strengthen local authorities and works with central institutions in Baghdad as well as regions and municipalities. Over the past few decades all power and resources have been concentrated in the capital leaving large parts of Iraq without investments in infrastructure or economic development. This has resulted in neglecting the municipalities' and regions’ administrative capacity.

Sida has procured technical assistance to strengthen the technical capacity of the Council of Ministers Secretariat – the equivalent of the Swedish Prime Minister’s Office. The support has resulted in improved preparation and follow-up capacity in the government work, thus strengthening the conditions for decentralisation. Sida contributes to UNDP’s national programme for local development and finances the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL); both actors support the regional and local capacity of the authorities. The purpose of the project is to strengthen Iraq in leaving excessive central control and contribute to increased popular participation in decision-making at all levels. SKL’s cooperation focuses on the areas Al Qaddesiva and Duhok.

Within the field of human rights, Sida supports for instance the work of the newly established HR-Commission, independent media and persecuted journalists through International Media Support as well as Iraqi women’s organisations in several places in the country, through the Swedish Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation. It helps Iraqi partner organisations to develop and become strong voices for women in society.

Trade, enterprise and economic systems

The goal within this area is "greater opportunities for poor people in Iraq to become self-sufficient". In order to contribute to this goal, Sida is working to strengthen the institutional capacity within trade and support private sector development while strengthening financial systems.

One example is the financial assistance provided to the World Bank for the development of the private sector, such as the reform of laws and regulations both on central and regional levels, corporatization and commercialization of state-owned enterprises and the micro-financing of small businesses.

Sida also funds specific courses for Iraq within the International Training Programmes (ITP).  These offer technical support and education to government officials and financial actors focusing on international trade, negotiation techniques, WTO agreements, technical trade barriers, quality infrastructure, food trade and risk management within the banking sector.

Sida’s comprehensive support to UNIDO in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of planning and national authorities for quality control, aims to strentghen the conditions for Iraq’s trade capacity and trade systems with additional positive effects on the national consumer protection.

Humanitarian support and demining 

The humanitarian support to Iraq has been extensive for a period of twenty years. There are still needs but Iraq has increased its capacity to handle its own humanitarian challenges. The problems in the country are mainly managed within the framework of existing development cooperation.

Sida’s remaining humanitarian support is mainly channeled through multilateral organisations, such as UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Primary target groups for humanitarian support are refugees, returning and internal refugees. Sida also partly supports demining as well as building national capacity for Iraq to continue the demining work on its own.

Page owner: Department for Asia, North Africa and Humanitarian Assistance

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