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Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was captured by ISIS in June 2014 and still remains under their control. However, the Iraqi army has vowed to recapture Mosul, and the speculation is that a counter-offensive is imminent. All scenarios for this military operation have dramatic humanitarian implications. According to some estimates, between 500,000 and 1.5 million civilians could flee into either the surrounding areas or into ISIS-controlled Syria. A large influx of new internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing towards the Ninewa Plains would have an impact on markets in the area; those markets need to be understood in order to meet humanitarian needs and to inform programming in an appropriate and effective way, while doing no harm.
In February 2016, Oxfam and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) co-facilitated a Pre- Crisis Market Analysis (PCMA) to inform preparedness and emergency response interventions by understanding market systems that are critical to supporting the basic needs and livelihoods recovery needs of populations affected by displacement in the Ninewa Plains - the wheat flour, drinking water and credit market systems. The assessment team was composed of 15 participants and a technical support team of five, from 12 different agencies. Participants attended a week-long workshop in Erbil that covered the PCMA approach, the 10 steps of EMMA and other relevant topics in market analysis, before beginning field research. The study analysed how selected market systems are performing in the current situation and aimed to forecast the impacts of the shock scenario in the target areas.
All three market systems are already affected by the protracted conflict with ISIS and the economic crisis in Iraq and the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI), which is linked to plummeting global oil prices. Communities in target areas are already hosting a number of IDPs as well as experiencing significant delays in government salary payments, which are affecting the livelihoods of a large portion of the population. Should a massive displacement occur of new IDPs from Mosul to the Ninewa plains, the impacts will add to the current constraints, especially in terms of social cohesion and overstretched household finances.
For the credit market system, the report recommends the following preparedness measures: supporting the re-establishment of savings and loan groups in host communities to re-establish livelihoods through access to micro-credit, providing incentives to host communities or local leaders to act as guarantors for credit to IDPs, increasing the provision of market information for IDPs, to increase awareness about options for accessing credit and to reduce vulnerability and conducting stakeholder mapping of foundations that previously provided small loans in the area. Should the predicted crisis unfold, the report recommends providing grants to small traders to service IDP camps and supply credit, facilitating the mentoring of new IDPs by previous IDPs who have successfully started and sustained small businesses, supporting the establishment of savings and loan groups for IDPs, providing incentives to host communities or local leaders to act as guarantors for credit to new IDPs, supporting credit solutions for mobile traders, increasing the provision of market information for new IDPs to raise awareness of solutions for accessing credit and serving as credit guarantors for groups wishing to generate income in displacement.
For the water market system, the report recommends a large number of preparedness measures, some of which include conducting a thorough mapping of boreholes in the target areas, repairing any non-functioning boreholes in the target areas, providing water treatment systems to existing boreholes where there are gaps, pre-positioning bottled water supplies where shops selling bottled water are not easily accessible to the target population, carrying out a brief analysis of the water container market, mapping the catchment area of water trucking operators in normal times and during a shock and drawing up pre-agreements with water truckers. As a first-line response in the event of the crisis scenario, the report suggests distributing vouchers or cash to be exchanged for drinking water, either by water trucking or bottling refill.
The report recommends the following preparedness actions for the wheat flour market system: joining the Rapid Response Mechanism Consortium, supporting the transportation capacity of millers, supporting bakers through loans or grants to increase their rolling stock of wheat flour, forming partnerships with millers and silos to offer paid internships for young people, advocating with all the NGOs operating in Northern Iraq to Turkey’s Minister for Trade and Customs to ensure ‘emergency’ circulation permits for wheat importers and advocating with other NGOs to better target unregistered IDPs. Should the crisis unfold, the report recommends conducting a multi-sectoral market analysis to support appropriate multi-purpose cash assistance to new IDPs and displacement-affected households and providing vouchers for bread or wheat flour to affected households.