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Profitable Peace: Creating long term opportunities for peace in Iraq

This project scales innovations into Iraq that could reduce inequality, create connection from division and build a profitable peace.

Photo of Rizwan
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The battle with the Islamic State Group is ending in Iraq, but the effects are still being felt. With 3.2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and more than 200,000 Syrian refugees, continued conflict over decades, and a consistent lack of funding, Iraq faces incredibly complex challenges – including challenges of return, social cohesion, meaningful work and opportunities for young people, and resource management. This project brings together innovations that have been implemented globally and locally that fit the context of Iraq to create a profitable peace for everyone in the long-term. Convene and Coordinate, match proven solutions and support (technically and financially) new approaches are key steps involved. By adapting and scaling innovations that have worked elsewhere, we are choosing multiple innovations to ensure a portfolio of success and to scale these across many organizations including INGOs and UN Agencies. All use latent assets (tech savvy and well-educated youth) in Iraq which create new, small scale, profitable employment and consequently the promise of futures and peace for the most vulnerable people. A) To bring diverse groups together to build a financially productive future together, some projects to adapt and scale in Iraq includes The reuse of waste materials to stimulate businesses and create new value (ex: making smart bricks from rubble in Haiti, to be expanded to include other ‘rubble made’ materials). B) Small scale manufacturing through 3D printing (model use in Nepal Earthquake) + Polyfloss for the reuse of plastics (brick insulation in Jordan, medical tools in Nepal) C) Online work (Arabic teaching and translation online, NaTakallam in Jordan). D) New work platforms which support small scale Uber-like work to create new types of employment opportunities through sharing models. Anyone can put their skills on a platform to be traded or paid for (tested in Jordan).

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries for this project are two-fold: 1. Families and individuals affected by conflict, along with their host communities. These could include refugees from Syria and IDPs internal to Iraq due to ISIS or past conflicts. These people will gain the ultimate benefit and impact from this project, including increased financial opportunities, peacebuilding and community collaboration, increased resilience, peace and prosperity. 2. The Innovation Community in Iraq. This includes any organization or individual who wants to work on social innovation for peace in Iraq (initially mapped out in the above ecosystem map). Academics, entrepreneurs, companies, NGOs and many more will benefit from this project in capacity building, learning, ideation and connection to diverse stakeholders.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

1. Organisations in Iraq are trying to address this need from an individual organizational perspective, and mostly by using what they know from Iraq. This project combines knowledge globally of what has worked in other geographies, and matches that with the challenges, capacities and growth funding possibilities specific to Iraq. 2. We have been building an Iraqi-wide social innovation platform to bring diverse people together to build peace and prosperity in Iraq with Response Innovation Lab (RIL). Creating a country-wide platform to build and scale social innovations is new and creates exciting possibilities that others couldn’t implement. We also have labs in 5 other countries to leverage. 3. We understand that there are different innovation and investment models needed to support scaling innovations for those who have little to no money and require systems change.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Majority Adoption: I have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Oxfam Iraq: Since 2014, Oxfam works across Iraq helping to improve people's lives, and lift communities out of poverty. From life-saving emergency responses to life-changing development projects and campaigning, our amazing supporters help make all this possible. ( The Response Innovation Lab is a global partnership that supports implementing innovation in humanitarian crisis for scalable impact.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

As humanitarians, we know the massive challenge of innovating during crisis. But, we also know the need is great -- to support the world’s most vulnerable people. We set up a program in Nepal after the Earthquake which has now scaled 3 innovations globally. In Iraq we found there is so much opportunity to make a significant change in people’s lives by scaling innovations that already work and meet local needs and context. The opportunity and demand is so great and felt by so many others here.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The Iraq conflict includes cycles of warfare, Iraqi IDPs, a growing refugee crisis, crippling sectarianism, and the violent spread of the self-styled Islamic State extremist movement. In the past decade, Iraqis have made some progress in building their government towards stability, but governing institutions remain weak, and corruption, sectarianism, and poverty are endemic. Peace cannot just be a return to the pre-2014 fragile status quo ante, but will only come from a transformation of religious group trust and financial stability. While Humanitarian assistance is crucial, for programs to be stable and sustainable, they must be accompanied by productive peace, addressing both material and social needs of IDPs and returnees. Most programs view peace in silos, rather than from an integrated perspective or bringing people together for fundamental common benefit – productive lives with financial futures.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The Response Innovation Lab is a global partnership that supports innovation in humanitarian crises for scalable impact. The Iraq RIL, hosted by Oxfam, works alongside the entire innovation community in Iraq. The RIL has been supported by others such as IOM and World Vision. Perhaps more importantly, this project has gained insight and support from a many more local organisations from 51Labs and Mselect (local innovation orgs), to Korek (Telcom), the American University of Iraq, Field Ready (3D printing organisation), Sanad (Local Peace NGO) and many more. The Iraq RIL platform was designed to create meaningful connections between actors who want to implement social innovation in Iraq. This community & local beneficiaries will guide and iterate on this project together through an advisory team, open forums for problem identification and implementation discussions, learning and feedback processes for specific scale porgrams.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

1. The Iraq social innovation community is motivated and ready to support for new ideas. 2. There is a huge amount of funding in Iraq for new ways of working, once they can be proven. Hence this fund will be used as ‘seed scale’ to bring in much greater funding for scale. 3. The diversity of the community, due to the critical need inspires different thinking with a focus on implementation to get things done.

Geographic Focus

This targets the country of Iraq.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project would be completed within a 24 month timeline.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Hi Rizwan It's amazing to know about your way of thinking in order to solve major crisis in Iraq. It's always good to reuse what's out there rather than reinventing the wheel. I looked at your website and it is really interesting. So are you thinking about building and positioning your solution as a hub that connects experienced innovators and supporters in order to solve the burning issues in Iraq? If so, I like that fact to be more highlighted in your submission.