Strengthening local governance and service delivery in Iraq
In 2011 SALAR International partnered with central and local authorities to help develop local governance (LOGDEVI) in Iraq. LOGDEVI was implemented in the Kurdistan region on inclusive education and child protection, and in the south of Iraq within decentralisation reform.
The US invasion of Iraq in 2003, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime and established a US-led Coalition Provisional Authority. This created a political vacuum in which a multi-dimensional conflict emerged between different political forces and with foreign interference.
After the defeat of ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) by 2017, the situation has somewhat stabilized, but the development of coherent, accepted and effective governance and service delivery remains a key challenge. The constitution of Iraq and the legal framework points to a decentralised governance system and there is an urgent need to improve local public services for all citizens.
SALAR started its work in Iraq 12 years ago, assisting the Swedish Government with local government related support. SALAR International partnered with central and local authorities, and with the NGO Iraqi Research Foundation for Analysis and Development (IRFAD). This partnership approach
- has built strong relations, trust, communication channels and long-term cooperation,
- ensures that SALAR support has been based on the real needs and requests of Iraqi stakeholders, and has been regularly adjusted as the situation has changed,
- has built sustainable local capacity in government institutions, and local NGO and consultant support capacity,
- has focused on developing a model and best practices in selected regions, which can then be replicated in all other regions.
Two distinct components
The Local Governance Development in Iraq (LOGDEVI) project is built around two distinct components – one situated in the Kurdistan region with a thematic focus on inclusive education and child protection. The other is in the south of Iraq where decentralisation reform has been in focus.
Both components have a strong focus on institutional development and planning and policy development. LOGDEVI’s partnership approach has yielded substantial results, even in the most challenging contexts and circumstances such as during the Covid 19 Pandemic, financial crises, large-scale popular protests, and political turbulence.
LOGDEVI’s guiding principles provide a cohesive framework for implementation and include
- a systems approach to local governance,
- local ownership and demand-based interventions,
- adaptation and incremental planning,
- conflict sensitivity and a human-rights based approach,
- gender equality and environmental sustainability,
- building on SALAR and Swedish municipal experience.
Any intervention to strengthen local governance must take into account the interactions and relationships among local and central government actors, and with other stakeholders. By having a continuous local presence in partner governorates, LOGDEVI has built important relationships with and across related government institutions. The way LOGDEVI designs and plans development processes has also been a key to its success.
LOGDEVI development facilitation processes include
- engaging technical teams and reference groups in local departments to do development work as part of their ordinary duties, supported by project experts and consultants,
- organising long-term processes of regular meetings and workshops, with clear objectives and agreed plans,
- engaging in relationship building via regular formal and informal meetings with key stakeholders,
- acting as a neutral mediator and facilitator in bringing together local, regional and national government structures to discuss and agree on problems, solutions and outputs.
A key LOGDEVI strategy and contribution has been to create forums for dialogue and channels for communication among stakeholders. This strategy has also engaged key decision makers in higher levels of government.
Results beyond the targeted governorates
The LOGDEVI Component one focused on the governorates of Diwaniyah and Muthanna, but all governorates in Iraq were engaged in various ways, and a close collaboration developed with federal authorities in Erbil and Baghdad regions.
LOGDEVI supported organisational development of local Administrative and Financial Affairs Departments and Provincial Planning and Development Councils, resulting in
- improved local administrative, financial, and planning capacities and decision-making processes,
- clear assigned mandates, roles and authority,
- stronger Provincial Planning and Development Councils,
- development of annual sector plans and local policies,
- collaborative policy development in the municipal sector,
- development of directories and manuals on administrative authorities and services,
- digitalised local financial reporting systems.
Important contribution to social care and schooling
Component two supported development of the education and social services sectors to achieve inclusive education and child protection policies, processes and practices in the Kurdistan region. This has facilitated the achievement of
- improved cooperation between the social services and educational departments (DoLSA and DoE) at local levels to develop inclusive education policies and practices
- enhanced official attention on safeguarding the rights of children and other vulnerable groups
- official policies, systems and structures for inclusive education and child protection
- cooperation in addressing complex child protection issues and social problems among different sectors and levels of government, and with civil society organisations
- institutionalization of child protection mechanisms in Duhok
- a standard programme for child protection for the whole Kurdistan Region
- institutional development and systems for cooperation between the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Directorate of Labour and Social Affairs in Duhok
- piloting a comprehensive model of inclusive education
- an effective personality case study office attached to the juvenile court in Duhok.