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Iraq Consolidated Appeal 2008
The combined effects of four years of destructive conflict and 15 years of economic hardship have led to a severe decline in the living standards of the Iraqi population. Throughout the country, conflict and increased lawlessness have seriously restricted access to essential services and resulted in widespread displacement. Already fragile local economies have been damaged by violence, administrative failures and restrictions on movement by state and non-state actors.
Since 2006, an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have left their homes, doubling the country’s existing post-war displacement levels, while millions more reside in communities where they have limited access to basics – food, water, health, shelter and protection.
Prompt assistance is critical at this time to address the needs of Iraq’s most vulnerable communities. The 2008 Iraq Consolidated Appeal is an action plan that seeks to rapidly and comprehensively meet the immediate priority needs of the most vulnerable Iraqis within the broader framework of Iraq’s longer-term recovery goals. The short-term relief projects included in the Appeal will not replace Government service provision, but will assist in filling critical gaps while the Government expands its capacity to respond to the needs of its people.
Challenges facing food security and livelihoods
In 2005, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that more than four million Iraqi families were food insecure, with a further eight million at risk.
The vital public distribution system (PDS), which provides food rations for every person in the country for a nominal fee, has been gradually deteriorating with incomplete and/or delayed rations becoming increasingly common owing to continued insecurity and local administrative failures. For at least 12 million Iraqis, the PDS remains a critical lifeline as it is one of the main social safety nets available to vulnerable people.
A large proportion of the country’s food insecure population lives in low-income households in rural areas. Food insecurity has contributed to a rise in malnutrition rates since 2004, with acute malnutrition rates increasing at an alarming level and particularly affecting young children.
The PDS does not include fresh food, such as fruits and vegetables, and poor households lack the purchasing power to supplement these rations. WFP has identified low micronutrient and protein intake, partially as a result of inadequate dietary diversity, as a key reason for the current high malnutrition levels among Iraqi children.
Furthermore, food security data collection mechanisms for analysis, monitoring and evaluation are still limited in Iraq. The local and international response to food insecurity requires the availability of reliable, accurate and timely information on the prevalence and causes of food insecurity, malnutrition and vulnerability in order to design appropriate and effective interventions, monitor their progress and measure their impact.
FAO in Iraq
As the lead agency in the food security and agriculture sectors, FAO has been supporting the development of income-generation activities for vulnerable people and the rehabilitation and maintenance of traditional irrigation schemes for resettled displaced households, among other activities.
Through the 2008 CAP for Iraq, FAO will provide support to improve dietary diversity for poor, vulnerable households through the distribution of vegetable seeds and inputs and essential, quality fishing gear and equipment, as well as organize training in the use of these inputs.
In addition, support will be provided to enhance evidence-based responses to the emerging food insecurity in Iraq through supporting the development of comprehensive food security analysis in the country. As part of the 2008 CAP for Iraq, FAO is appealing for US$6 600 000.