Phase 2 Project Overview

The objective of Phase 2 is to use the information gleaned from the Phase 1 research to restore agricultural-based cultural practices and build relevant, transferable skills of University of Duhok around both implementation and research. Based on the research undertaken and consultations with the project team, we have identified several avenues for Phase II extension project activities. Each of these activities have the potential to strengthen the generative connections between cultural meaning and agricultural landscapes, and to support community resilience, recovery, and healing over the long term, with a focus on co-ownership, place and belonging. Broadly, these activities include: 

Theory of Change

Objective: Assist ethno-religious groups in the target geographies in re-establishing the production or use of soil for the procurement of culturally relevant foods, fibers, fuels and its derivatives. 

IF humanitarian, development and peace building actors (host institutions, as well as implementers and donors) are persuaded through evidence to support cultural practice restoration/conservation and ecosystem stewardship at the community, village and sub-district levels; IF landscape recovery – of domesticated and wild species – is leveraged to support recovery from trauma, restore social connections and cultural practices, and increase community resilience; IF communities develop norms, practices and skills by which they organize collective action to recover production, consumption and exchange of local agricultural varieties across geographies (locally, nationally, and internationally); IF Northern Iraq residents embrace cultural diversity as an asset for the recovery of livelihood practices and healthy landscapes, social cohesion and an increased sense of belonging; and IF systems are put in place for cultural diversity to become an asset for recovery of livelihood practices; THEN, minority groups' ways and means of living will be enhanced and sustained through the safeguarding of cultural practices and improved health of the natural landscape. 

Overarching Frameworks

1. Gender

This project seeks to understand gender roles in a broad sense, acknowledging that the needs and interests of women and men are different, and directly influenced by power relations, social status, and cultural and religious norms, that ascribe men and women different roles and expected behaviors. The project’s gender approach is inspired by the analytical framework proposed by Moser and Levy (1993; cited in: March et al, 1999), which incorporates a positional analysis of women as structurally and culturally subordinate to men in patriarchal societies. In this sense, the gender relations mapping model proposed by the authors makes a distinction between two types of gender needs or interests: 1) practical gender needs, and 2) strategic gender needs.

The practical needs are those that, if covered, would allow women to carry out its daily activities. These needs are immediate gaps perceived by people, which occur in a specific context, and are related to deficiencies in living conditions. Responding to and meeting these needs aims to resolve the symptoms - not the causes - of the gender-based division of labor, and hetero-patriarchal power relations. Examples of interventions that respond to these needs are the provision of water, health and housing; food distribution; expanding opportunities for income generation, among others. Although these are needs that all members of the household share, women in particular identify them as their own needs, since they are the ones who assume the responsibility for ensuring that family survival requirements are met in these aspects.

The strategic needs are defined by the authors as those that, if covered, would especially enable women to transform existing imbalances of power with men. These needs are related to divisions of labor, power and control over resources based on gender. Examples of these needs are: lack of access to legal rights and protections, domestic violence, wage inequality, and women's control over their health and body. Meeting these needs promotes greater gender equality, while questioning and subverting the position and subordinate role of women in society.

According to the literature review findings, for instance, lack of access to legal rights and protections is an important factor in discouraging return to their places of origin among IDP female-headed households, particularly Ezidi and Christian ones (IOM Iraq, 2019b). Similarly, factors that could increase the likelihood to return include property ownership and group identity. In places where demographic change propelled by forced displacement has increased tensions between ethno-religious groups, as is the case in Hamdaniya and Tel keyf between Shabak and Christians, it is common for Christian women to be victims of harassment and sexual assault.

These gaps in strategic gender needs should be addressed by the project. Addressing practical gender needs, by improving the material living conditions of women, is one strategy that the project will seek to address directly. The project will also seek to change attitudes among community leaders, farmers and villagers towards other ethno-religious groups, by engaging them in dialogical spaces, such as community plots/gardens, farmers’ associations, cultural events, gatherings, and knowledge co-production and dissemination. Participation of women in these spaces is critical, given their contribution to cultural practice preservation and intergenerational knowledge transmission, as well as to household finances and food security. Acknowledging women’s contribution to cultural preservation and restoration, and to household and community economies, is central for the positive transformation of gender relations and overall living conditions of women and girls in post-IS Iraq.

The project will address practical gender needs by leveraging existing women roles and capacities, such as livestock rearing and tending: the processing of meat, fiber and dairy products; the tending and cultivation of home gardens; the planning and management of household economy, consumption, and care needs, among other activities. It is expected that a greater focus on the agricultural sector will benefit rural and urban households with increased production of local goods and lower prices, particularly for vulnerable populations, such as female-headed households, who tend to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on food (RFSAN 2016, p. 4).

2. Systems Approach

Phase 2 of the project will adopt a system’s perspective in designing its strategy, objectives and outcomes. As a problem-solving approach, systems thinking and analysis will guide implementation and project management in focusing on root causes, causal relationships, short-term implementation with a long-term perspective, and coordination with key stakeholders across the system. The systems approach will be essential for acquiring and leveraging knowledge production and learning: the point of departure of systems thinking is that learning is driven by the tensions between desired results and reality. This approach also benefits from interdisciplinary and collaboration. It is, therefore, a useful framework to stimulate collaboration between project partners and potential external stakeholders. In this sense, a systems approach allows for innovation, testing against desired results, increased awareness of unintended consequences, and the identification of leverage points for positive and sustainable social change.

3. Capacity Development

Capacity development is an approach that seeks to “foster local capacities, ownership and sustainability” (Ubels et al. 2010). Capacity development can also be understood as a deliberate process that aims to tackle performance constraints within organizations, so that they engage productively with their constituents and other relevant stakeholders, beyond transactional relationships. This idea suggests that a certain level of ownership is required from the organization whose capacities are being developed (Datta et al. 2012).  In turn, it is also suggested that capacity development is a political process that takes place in response to internal and external incentives, as “organizations change in response to their perception of how well-equipped they are to deal with their external environment” (Ibid).

Based on these assumptions, the capacity development approach of this project seeks to integrate processes that improve organizational performance, at the level of the project itself, the implementing partner (University of Duhok), and the project participants and beneficiaries (community-level associations and organizations). Performance factors, such as knowledge, skills, resources and incentives, are expected to improve the way in which the project and the organizations engage with constituents and external stakeholders beyond transactional relationships, seeking to foster interdependent learning, growth, improvement and more symmetrical power relations. 

The Activity #1 consisted of Promotion of agricultural production, exchange and inter-community collaboration. According to the Phase 1 evaluation findings, the two main impediments to farming post-IS are a lack of financial resources (81%), followed by a lack of equipment (36%). Financial viability and sustainability are critical for the restoration of cultural activities. Food is seen to have significant cultural importance, as demonstrated by the initial needs assessment, with a large majority of those surveyed seeing meals for special occasions (72% of overall respondents; 82% for Kakai) and dishes associated with religious events (62% of overall respondents; 76% of Ezidis; 83% of Turkmen) as playing an important role in their life. ➤ LEARN MORE

The Activity #2, Farmers from minority groups claim that local products cannot compete with inexpensive imports, prices are low, leaving farmers with little to no profit margin, and thus disincentivizes the creation of culturally appropriate animal and plant species. Farmers' primary source of income, locally bred livestock, cannot compete with imported meat and dairy goods from Iran and Turkey. In addition to concerns about the government's grain procurement scheme, there are comparable issues in the agricultural sector. These issues include considerable payment delays, long silo lines that increase transportation costs, and requests for bribes in order for grain to be received at the silo.  ➤ READ MORE

Leaders of the Ezidis and Kakai groups claim challenges in promoting and selling their agricultural goods, including as cattle, dairy products, and other consumables, to Muslim populations for apparently hygienic and religious reasons. This is thought to be the result of ignorance (misinformation) and/or preconceptions about their beliefs, which has a detrimental effect on their way of life and capacity to continue engaging in agriculture. They also cite incidents of hate speech directed at their communities as a result of ignorance of their religion, as shown by school curriculum that primarily emphasise Islamic doctrines. Lack of knowledge and hate speech are thought to worsen intercommunal trust, social cohesion, and cohabitation while also fostering economic and social discrimination.  ➤ EXPLORE THIS ACTIVITY

A multi-stakeholder strategy is necessary for the restoration of the cultural and agricultural practises of the ethno-religious minority in Northern Iraq. The capacity of stakeholders to implement strategies is constrained by technical, financial, and "programme scope" issues (from local communities to UN Agencies). Given the dependency between the results of one programme and those of other programmes, these restrictions in turn serve as incentives for coordination and collaboration. In this regard, collaboration and information exchange with other assistance organisations is essential for long-term sustainability of outcomes as well as for the encouragement of aims and objectives alignment and social and political transformation in Northern Iraq. ➤ ACCESS TO READ MORE