Since the brutal advance of the so-called 'Islamic State', a total of around 250,000 Syrian refugees and more than one million Iraqi IDPS have sought refuge in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq – many of them in large-scale camps. And it is here that Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is engaged in an extensive cash-for-work programme that is being implemented on site by GIZ.
Cash for work is the generic term for employment programmes that offer refugees and the local population an opportunity to earn some money. At the same time, these programmes render vital public services that promote the general welfare of everyone in the host region. In northern Iraq, for example, this includes infrastructure improvements both in the camps and host communities, such as the installation of sports fields and playgrounds or paved roads. Social activities also form part of the cash-for-work programme.
In one of the projects that GIZ is co-implementing with the worldwide relief agency, Malteser International, inhabitants in four of these camps are being trained as health advisers. They’re tasked with disseminating vital knowledge about hygiene, first aid and prevention within their neighbourhood.
Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in early 2011, about 720,000 refugees have fled the country to Jordan. Nearly 80,000 live in the Zaatari refugee camp. The large number of refugees poses immense challenges for Jordan, including in the area of waste management. More people also means more waste. That is where the Cash for Work programme comes in, which GIZ is implementing in the Zaatari refugee camp together with Oxfam on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
It’s a simple principle: Syrian refugees collect waste, sort it and sell the raw materials to Jordanian entrepreneurs. The money earned is divided among the workers. In this way, inhabitants of Zaatari manage to deal with huge amounts of waste and keep the camp clean. At the same time they generate income and can provide for their families.
The project is part of BMZ’s special initiative ‘Tackling the Root Causes of Displacement – Reintegrating Refugees’, which is being implemented in regions with ongoing crises.