Iraq Success Story Booklet Tells Impressive Story
ACDI/VOCA implemented three iterations of USAID’s Community Action Program (CAP) from 2003 to 2012. To promote participatory development CAP delved into gender, health, education, youth, war victims’ relief and economic empowerment. In terms of budget, it was the biggest program in ACDI/VOCA’s history, although $27.5 million was contributed in in cost-share and leverage by public and private Iraqi partners.
In 2008 Congressman Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said about CAP: “This is the one program that is in fact working in Iraq. No one disputes it. We can dispute everything else, but not this.”
Toward a Culture of Participatory Decision Making
CAP assisted Iraqi communities to organize voluntarily, coordinate with local authorities, and prioritize and respond to community needs in a spirit of cooperation. Such buy-in, empowerment and sense of commonweal were previously missing in Iraq, where there is a history of centralized government planning and community fragmentation. CAP instilled a culture of participatory decision making.
The success story booklet shows how involved and far reaching the project was. Eight community groups were formed and 70 local councils were mobilized. Almost 400 community projects were completed. Thousands of community activists and government officials received training. Livelihood enhancement was emphasized in the latter stages of the project, and kick-start grants helped establish 474 businesses and create 20,857 jobs.
'Help These Communities Help Themselves'
“USAID works with Iraqi communities from the ground up, where the most basic concepts of democracy, community mobilization, and conflict mitigation are being applied to refurbish schools, health clinics, and other items towns and villages need desperately. We’re proud of our ability to represent the ideals of the American people and help these communities help themselves in bringing relief to some of the most battered areas in Iraq,” said Alex Dickie, USAID/Iraq’s mission director.
As one government representative in Diyala said, “Each aspect of the USAID/CAP is like a road sign…. We Iraqis are moving on the highway from authority to democracy, and these signs help guide us, though we ultimately must choose our own path.”
Feature Published: 10/12