Erbil- The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Iraq presented key findings and specific recommendations to stakeholders and working partners from the Camp Business Market Mapping, Rapid Skills Survey and Local Labor Market Assessment on 23 December 2015 at the Best Inn Erbil Hotel. The assessment was conducted for camp based refugees in Basirma, Qushtapa, Kawargosk and Darashkran in Erbil governorate. The assessment was carried out between May and September 2015 by DRC livelihood teams with the support of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The overall objective of the assessment was to identify resilience building interventions aimed at contributing to stronger self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods for camp based refugees.
The assessment was conducted using both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods and data was collected by DRC through electronic data collection tools. Quantitative data from the four camps was analyzed and consolidated with qualitative data from Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and key informant Interviews.
Overall, the assessment found a strong link between small businesses and the economic wealth of households, particularly for businesses in the production, manufacturing or services sectors. The assessment also revealed that a strong business market environment exists within the Syrian refugee camps of Erbil, with 717 small businesses operational across the four camps, with Kawergosk noted having the highest number of open businesses at 253.
However, the assessment also found market saturation of small grocery and retail shops, despite the immediate need for a more diversified business market. It was revealed that the majority of businesses (65%) are retail businesses, followed by services (27%) and manufacturing (8%). This suggests that future support to small businesses within the camps should be focused on the service and manufacturing sectors, which will both fill a gap in the market and provide an effective income to refugee households. Based on these findings, the DRC assessment recommends increased support for refugee communities to build on existing business and market capacities in these two sectors by strengthening the business practices among business owners, establishing support capital and credit building mechanisms, and linking business into wider markets outside the camp setting.
Furthermore, the study revealed that 5% of respondents held highly skilled jobs, 64% semi-skilled jobs and 31% unskilled jobs prior to being displaced from Syria. Therefore, the assessment also recommends that livelihoods agencies build on pre-existing skill sets which the majority of respondents bring with them through tailored livelihoods packages, while providing trainings and skills-building programs to enhance the capacities of those whose previous experiences were in unskilled labor. The assessment also revealed that there is a limited capacity to absorb additional labor in areas around Qushtapa, Kawargosk and Darashkran Syrian refugee camps within existing market sectors. To provide local employment opportunities for camp based Syrian men and women, new labor-intensive market sectors with linkages to government municipalities need to be explored, in particular in waste management, agricultural production and value added processing,.
DRC has over 10 years of extensive experience operating livelihoods programs throughout Iraq, including in the KRI. This includes both emergency and sustainable livelihoods interventions. DRC has been providing support to Syrian refugees, IDPs and host communities in obtaining access to sustainable livelihood opportunities that enhance their skills and knowledge and helps them become self-reliant. Since November 2014, the DRC livelihoods team has placed over 500 beneficiaries in jobs, provided small business development trainings to over 1000 beneficiaries, and provided business development grants to approximately 800 beneficiaries.
DRC Iraq will officially launch the Camp Business Market Mapping, Rapid Skills Survey and Local Labor Market Assessment in early 2016.