Source: Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits
BASRA, March 15 (AKnews) – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Shell Iraq signed a four-year agreement on Tuesday to implement a range of development projects in southern Iraq.
The partnership aims to increase the number of local area development activities, promote local small and medium enterprises and provide vocational training to respond to the private sector’s needs.
“UNDP believes that such partnerships are fundamental for the effective implementation of our development programmes in Iraq,” said UNDP Iraq country director Peter Batchelor.
“Partnering with the private sector, particularly with international oil companies who are the largest investors in the country, is key to capacity building, generating employment and building strong and competitive inclusive markets,” he added.
The partnership, the first of its kind between UNDP Iraq and the private sector, has two main components.
The first includes vocational training to equip existing and future Iraqi workers to respond to the needs of the oil and gas sector. It also includes providing support for the establishment and development of micro, small and medium enterprises.
The second includes a range of programmes to improve the quality of basic services for the residents of Basra province. This will be achieved through more inclusive and participatory planning processes, where local communities and civil society organizations are able to identify their own development needs and priorities.
“An estimated 450,000 new job seekers are entering the Iraqi labor market every year, so creating adequate job opportunities in the private sector has become vital for Iraq’s recovery and economic growth,” said Shell Iraq vice president and country chairman Hans Nijkamp.
“We’re focusing on finding ways to maximize the benefits of our projects for local companies and contribute to employment creation. We’re pleased to be involved in this important partnership.”
Unemployment in Iraq is currently 11.5 percent of the total population, slightly less than in recent years.
More than 20 percent of Iraqi youth are unemployed, while at least 1 in 5 women in Iraq are unemployed.
In Basra, 11 percent of the total population of the governorate are unemployed.
The private sector in Iraq only accounts for 7 percent of total full time employment. There is however a high and growing demand for qualified local manpower, particularly in the oil and gas sector, which is currently not being met. The anticipated increase in oil production in Iraq will further increase the demand for qualified local manpower.
Basra, where this partnership will be implemented, is a potentially wealthy economy with some of the largest oil reserves in the world and the country’s only port. Basra’s wealth, however, has not yet trickled down to its citizens, who remain some of the poorest people in Iraq.
The quality of essential services, such as electricity, water and sanitation and solid waste management, is also very poor in Basra compared to the rest of the country.
Batchelor added that the partnership is part of UNDP’s support for the local network of the Global Compact, which was launched in Iraq in October last year to promote responsible business practices in the areas of human rights, labor standards, environment and anti-corruption.
The Global Compact, and these types of partnerships, also provide a useful framework for international oil companies who are operating in Iraq to meet their corporate social responsibility obligations.