Revitalizing agriculture and agro-industries in Hawija – Iraq


In consortium with Delphy and Al-Ghad, and in partnership with the UNDP, Cordaid launched a sustainable livelihoods project in Hawija, Iraq. The business training and grants will enable hundreds of farmers and agribusiness owners, including many women and young people, to sustainably improve their livelihoods.

Hawija Town and Hawija District has a complex socio-political history with many violent inter-communal conflicts, the most recent being the IS occupation (2014-2017).

“The war has shattered people’s livelihoods and left them alone with their traumas unaddressed. Sustainable economic development and psychosocial support are vital.

Before the invasion of the Islamic State, Hawija was one of the largest agricultural centers in Iraq, with the largest cotton production and the second largest production of fruits, vegetables, wheat, barley and corn from the country.

The majority of people in Hawija depend on agriculture. And with the proximity of the Little Zab River and two main water stations, the Hawija district was and still is well suited for agricultural production.


However, during the war against ISIS, the people of Hawija and its infrastructure suffered tremendously.

“People find it extremely difficult to rebuild their lives. The war has shattered their livelihoods and they are left alone with their unprocessed trauma. Integrated programming promoting both sustainable economic development and psychosocial support is vital*,” *says Daphne van Dam, Cordaid’s Private Sector Development Program Manager in Iraq.


In a consortium of Dutch and local partners specializing in the development of agro-ecosystems in fragile and (post-)conflict contexts, this project helps people in Hawija to rebuild their livelihoods.

In six months, it will support 250 farmers, including 100 women and 60% young people, through capacity building, as well as business and field training. After that, 95 farmers will receive a grant to upgrade their irrigation systems and follow-up coaching to put the learnings into practice.

75 agribusiness employees (at least 30 women and 30 young people) will also participate in business management skills development training. 35 entrepreneurs will receive grants to invest in their business, as well as personal coaching.

To raise awareness and engage agricultural ecosystem stakeholders, we organize market-connection events and interactive learning workshops designed to make food systems more sustainable.

The project is implemented by UNDP, in partnership with Cordaid, Al-Ghad and Delphy with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In addition to this financing, Cordaid also allocated equity. This allows an additional 45 farmers and six SMEs to receive grants.


Funding for mental health and psychosocial support services was also made available, as most, if not all, participants experienced challenges and trauma.

These experiences profoundly affect people’s private and professional lives. This is why, throughout the duration of the project, a psychologist, two social workers and a protection officer are available to all participants. They will maintain the gender and trauma sensitivity of project activities and focus on the mental health and physical safety of all participants. If necessary, the psychologist will be able to refer participants to more specialized mental health services.


In all activities, Cordaid works closely with community committees. They have a permanent advisory role in all activities. Through them, the voice of the community is at the center of the project.


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