In Basra, displaced people do not give up on dreams of a better life

Sajad, 20, IDP in Basra: "I dream of the day I will open a shop" ©CAOFISR/UNDP

Survival can be summed up in three words – never give up. This is the saying of thousands of internally displaced people (IDP), who fled violence in central and northern Iraq to the south. Some 300 families, 2,000 persons, live in a camp near the popular market in the 5-Miles District in the suburbs of the city of Basra.


  • Vocational training, job and business creation to generate livelihoods for more than 1,000 displaced persons, one third are women
  • Souk (market) rehabilitation to enhance business among displaced persons and their host community
  • Country-wide in 2014, UNDP created jobs and businesses for 14,000 displaced persons and members of their host communities

Sajad Fadel, 20, arrived in the southern Governorate of Basra in September 2014. Originally from Al-Ramadi, Anbar, he had left behind his home and family. Sajad completed the elementary school and later worked as a labourer in his home city. In the camp, he was looking for a job.

When the UN dDevelopment Programme (UNDP) started a livelihood project in early 2015, he offered to train fellow IDPs. He also joined a paint training to improve his skills in construction works. “I dream of the day I will open a shop and decently earn my life, in order to survive and rebuild my life,” Sajad says.

At the outset of every forced population displacement, people struggle with subsistence from accessing drinking water to finding emergency cash and employment. To boost  their resilience, UNDP provides IDPs with short-term income opportunities, commonly called cash-for-work, in the form of daily labor such as masonry, carpentry or plumbing, to improve basic services within the camp and host community.

Members of 230 families have attended vocational training in sewing, bakery and cookery, hairdressing, carpentry and electricity, as well as short business courses to boost their entrepreneurship skills. Some 1,000 people, including the host community, are directly or indirectly benefitting from new jobs and small enterprises.

New shops in the local market (souk) will increase prospects for displaced people to start up new business and serve the host community, thus play a pivotal role in strengthening social cohesion with their neighborhood.

The project is run by the Canadian Aid Organization for Iraqi Society and Rehabilitation (CAOFISR) thanks to a small grant from UNDP Iraq.

The Governorate of Basra is at present hosting to 1,821 families or 10,926 internally displaced persons in 215 locations, mainly in non-camp settings, who fled violence in Anbar, Babylon, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, Salah al-Din (Source: IOM, April 2015).

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