Understanding existing markets in Anbar governorate and the potential for their further development

  • Contract
  • Anbar



Understanding existing markets in Anbar governorate and the potential for their further development

October 2021

  • Closing date: 7th Nov 2021

  • Consultancy NO. INT7968

Project title: Contributing to Economic Resilience in Central Iraq

Donor: BMZ **

Project locations: Anbar **

Project duration: 8/2021 to 12/2024

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

Oxfam has a long history in Iraq, starting in the early 1990s following the first Gulf War when it operated in the North and South of the country. Oxfam currently works in Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Missan, Ninewa, and Salahaddin governorates and Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

Oxfam is implementing a project entitled “Contributing to Economic Resilience in Central Iraq” with the financial support of BMZ. Before the launch of the project activities, Oxfam intend to understand the operation of markets in Anbar from a gender perspective and what their potential for further development is. The study is planned to be conducted in November and December 2021.

1.2 Description of the project

Large scale unemployment, weak political governance, corruption, and crippling sectarianism continue to be major drivers of conflict and instability in Iraq. COVID-19 and accompanying measures also represent an economic shock of unprecedented scale. This carries an immediate impact for households, enterprises, and the economy. According to the head of the Parliament finance committee, the Iraqi economy is likely facing a potential fiscal deficit between $40-80 billion[1]. Ninety percent of Iraq’s budget is reliant on oil revenues and with the drastic fall in global oil prices, the new government will have to enact serious economic reforms to stabilize and recover. Part of these reforms include opportunities for economic diversification and the agricultural sector presents sizeable potential. The central drivers of poverty and food insecurity in Iraq are conflict and insecurity, rapid population growth and the effects of climate change including increasing water scarcity and accelerated desertification, Combined, these have resulted in reduced prospects for viable rural and peri-urban based rainfed and irrigated agricultural and livestock production that provide sustainable income-generating opportunities for rural communities.

The agriculture sector is a vital to Iraq’s economy but today accounts for less than nine percent of the country’s GDP. The size and productivity of the agricultural sector has been affected by decades of conflict, availability of cheap imports and a lack of government policies to effectively manage, protect or preserve Iraq’s natural resources. There are good reasons to believe that the agriculture sector could be a driver of economic growth in post-conflict Iraq in ways that favor the poorest populations. Both rural and urban households benefit from increased production and lower prices, particularly vulnerable populations, such as female-headed households, which tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on food[2]. Poor households dependent upon low skill labor benefit from increased demand for workers and increased wages. Supporting smallholder farming families and promoting linkages with market actors should generate jobs for farm laborers. Oxfam’s multi-sector needs assessment in Anbar (Feb 2021) found that 99% of people responded Yes when asked if there was a need for community livelihood support.

Anbar has historically been considered the breadbasket of Iraq, due to its good, cultivatable land and a sufficient water supply from the river Euphrates and surrounding lakes. Agriculture was the main provider of jobs and livelihoods for the (semi-) rural population before the war, especially for Anbar’s women, of whom more than 40 percent earned their income in agriculture. However, due to the destruction of infrastructure resulting from the ISIS conflict and use of outdated farming methods, Anbar’s agricultural sector is currently unable to compete with cheaper, imported goods from Iran and Turkey. Job opportunities in agriculture are sparse and many people leave rural areas to seek employment in Anbar’s largest cities, Fallujah and Ramadi. Both cities have grown significantly over the last five years and have become overwhelmed by the demand for jobs and basic social services, which they do not have sufficient capacity to provide.

As per the findings of Oxfam’s April 2021 Peace & Conflict Analysis (PCA), displacement can be a key driver of conflict in Anbar. A significant proportion of Iraq’s IDP population comes from Anbar and given the Ministry of Migration and Displacement’s (MoMD) recent camp closure policies, many people can be expected to return during the life of the project. Returnees often face discrimination in accessing public services, as perceived affiliation is a major source of tension. Given the overwhelming needs of various groups in Anbar, people with disabilities, injuries, and psychosocial distress are particularly vulnerable as they are frequently overlooked by humanitarian response efforts. The inclusion of these groups requires careful design and resourcing to ensure they are not excluded further.

Agricultural financing remains a major bottleneck for agricultural development. Famers have limited access to credits or informal networks. There are no incentives to invest in agricultural processing industries or value chains because of the complicated administrative and regulatory system, distorted price policies, inefficient and outdated marketing networks, and very little market information. Farmers and entrepreneurs do not have access to financing for agriculture diversification and value chain development and do not have appropriate level of technology and capacity for proper post-harvest.

While the Government of Iraq (GoI) does provide support to farmers via the provision of subsidies and technical support it has limited capacity and many governmental facilities have suffered significant infrastructural damage to years of conflict. The COVID-19 pandemic has added more stress to an already fragile food system, disrupting supply chains, increasing food costs, and decreasing the purchasing power of Iraqi households. Farmers’ unions and associations are weak and lack the ability to raise issues and meaningfully contribute to agriculture sector reforms. There is a need to strengthen their capacity, including expanding coverage by involving Ministry of Agriculture and extension workers, and ensuring the inclusion of women.

Women are essential to fostering economic resilience in agriculture and food market systems and contributing towards social and structural economic empowerment. However, cultural norms and security issues make it even more difficult for women than men to access public services, employment, and markets. These constraints are faced at economic, social, family, and individual levels. Oxfam’s 2019 Gender Enterprise and Market (GEM) and Rapid Care Analysis (RCA) assessments indicated that while women in Anbar are interested in agriculture, animal husbandry, crop production, milk production and sewing, and have experience and skills, they do not have sufficient control over the assets required to lead income generating activities[3]. Time and mobility constraints due to household care duties further limit women’s full participation in economic activities. Moreover, community markets are controlled by traders and smallholder farmers do not have much power to negotiate, set conditions, and benefit from opportunities or services. Women producers have even less power and participation in these formal markets.

The 2019 assessments emphasized there is scope to promote community-based organisations – particularly women-based organisations – to engage in community-level livelihood recovery. Facilitating coordination among stakeholders is crucial to strengthening the market system and amplifying women’s voice in market systems. Market access can be improved by introducing inclusive technologies that link producers with buyers – ensuring quality and better pricing – while reducing the time and travel burdens that restrict women’s access to critical information.

However, the risk of renewed conflict and damage to infrastructure and livelihoods remains. Anbar – with a population of just under two million – was the first governate attacked by ISIS when, in January 2014, Fallujah fell to the group. This was followed by losses of several key cities and Ramadi in 2015. ISIS rule, and subsequent military operation to regain control of Anbar in 2016, devastated civil areas and led to widespread destruction of public and private property[4]. Oxfam’s Feb 2021 MSNA carried out in Anbar found that 77% of people had their housing, land or property destroyed during the recent conflict. There is potential for further conflict driven by a lack of access to resources, livelihoods, and corrupt (or perceived to be corrupt) governance systems. These stressors have been deepened further by recent camp closures that forced tens of thousands into secondary and tertiary displacement or to return home when unsafe to do so[5] . A significant proportion of the internally displaced people (IDP) population is from Anbar and can be expected to return during the life of this project. While active conflict in Anbar has been limited in recent years, displacement and forced returns can be a driver of further conflict.

This backdrop underscores the importance of restoring agricultural livelihoods – an historically important sector in Anbar – for all community members. Improving the living conditions in areas of origin and integration will contribute to the sustainability of return and relocation, and therefore the overall reintegration in target areas. There is high potential to rebuild local economic opportunities and establish the conditions to make the economy more resilient to crisis. Oxfam’s presence in both governates also ensures reliable access to community, private sector, policy makers, development partners, as well the operational capacity to deliver quality programming. The locations for the proposed project are as follows:



Al Sijar




Oxfam will intend targeting an equal number of beneficiaries across all three locations; however, this may be adjusted based on the emergence of high-potential market opportunities and community-identified priorities.

Breakdown of the beneficiaries:


Total reach (individuals)






People with Disabilities


Breakdown of the beneficiaries per target groups:




Total reach (individuals)












Host community




1.3 Expected outcomes and outputs

The overall project goal is defined as follows: Strengthened economic resilience of agriculture and food market systems to contribute towards social and structural economic empowerment of communities and public private partners (C3P) in Central Iraq.

This goal will be achieved through three main outcomes

Outcome 1: Small Scale Producers (SSPs), SMEs, and public private partners have increased production, income generation, and market development opportunities.**

Outcome 2: Improved adaptive agriculture and food market system through institutional development.

Outcome 3: An improved market system model is established in Anbar that includes mechanisms to inform policy reforms and create synergies within and across market.

The project directly contributes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 1, 5, 8, 10 and 15 by reducing poverty, hunger and inequalities, whilst strengthening women’s empowerment and promoting decent work and economic growth. It aligns with the GoI’s Iraq Reconstruction and Development Framework (IRFD), which contributes to Iraq’s National Development (2018-2022) and Iraq Vision 2030, both of which are designed to address both the country’s immediate stabilization and longer-term adaptation needs. Activities are also based on standards defined by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Framework on Durable Solutions for IDPs and will be coordinated with key institutional and response partners through an area-based approach that leverages existing programming to maximize impact.

2. Objectives of the Gendered Enterprises & Market Assessment

Post-conflict, market development surveys focus primarily on re-establishing markets and market support structures damaged by conflict, displacement and loss of infrastructure. At this stage in Iraq, most of the nascent market development and support structures are not clear, and more information is needed to understand the nature of challenges and opportunities for market development in agro-business. This requires in depth information about the gender and socio-political underpinnings of how markets are allowed to or discouraged from developing in Anbar, especially in regard to the target population.

There are two main elements to be assessed:

1. To understand existing markets and how they can be developed further to benefit female and male beneficiaries of the project.

2. To gain a deeper understanding of how new markets can be created, including any associated value chains and support structures which can be developed exclusively by the male and female beneficiaries of this project.

The scope of the Gendered Enterprises & Market study should be guided by the following key questions:

  • How are new businesses perceived, what are the interlocking relationships and understandings of current value chain operators, perceptions of innovation, formal and informal factors influencing the success and failure of vendors along a value chain?

  • How are prices set and norms (production, social and political) enforced/changed?

  • How is innovation perceived in the marketplace? By producers? By buyers? By government and other non-direct/non-state actors? What factors determine acceptance or support for innovation?

  • How is innovation formally and informally discouraged?

  • What barriers exist for women at individual level to be integrated in any market? (e.g. technical and life skills)?

  • What barriers exist for women at household level to access market? (e.g. reproductive work, mobility, control over assets)

  • What is the level of community openness to women’s inclusion in economic activities? (e.g. attitudes and norms). How are they monitored and enforced? How are they changed?

  • What market-related barriers do women face to be included in economic activities? (e.g. access to services, attitudes by market actors, lack of safety and insecurity). How are these barriers exercised? By whom?

  • What is the level of women’s collective organizing and what opportunities can be identified?

  • What strategic partnerships exist and can be utilized to support women’s inclusion in market?

  • What legal, regulatory and policy frameworks exist to support women’s inclusion in market and what gaps could be identified to inform advocacy strategies?

3. Methodology

The Gendered Enterprises and Markets assessment will apply a mix method in data collection, including both quantitative and qualitative methods. These will include, for example, data review, literature review, market system analysis, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, social capital mapping, competitor/competitive mapping. The study will aim to collect gender-disaggregated data where relevant. A descriptive and exploratory analysis techniques will be used to present the findings. To ensure the quality of the data, experienced female and male enumerators will be selected and trained on data collection protocols. This will include, but is not limited to, collecting gender-disaggregated in support of a gender analysis of the data collected.

4. Expected Deliverables/Outputs

Expected deliverables include:

  • Data collection tools. Feedback from programme staff will be provided within one (1) week after the submission of the draft data collection tools.

  • Draft Gendered Enterprises and Markets assessment report: Feedback from programme staff will be provided within one (1) week after the submission of the draft report. The report should include description of the findings, analytical part and recommendations.

  • Final Report: The final report will be produced in one week (7 days) following date of submission of comments. **

  • Dataset.**

5. Time Frame **

The work is expected to be conducted in November /December 2021.

6. Budget for the Study

A full financial plan will be submitted by applicants. **

[1] Lawk Ghafuri, Coronavirus and oil price crash could plunge Iraq deeper into crisis’, Rudaw, 15 March 2020, https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/corona-oil-iraq-economy-crisis

[2] ‘Restoration of Agriculture and Water Systems sub-Programme: 2018-2020′, FAO, 2018. http://www.fao.org/3/ca1511en/CA1511EN.pdf

[3] ‘Gender Enterprise and Market and Rapid Care Analysis Assessment: Anbar and Salah al-Din Governates’. Oxfam Livelihoods Programme, December 2019.

[4] ‘The Long Road Home: Achieving Durable Solutions to Displacement in Iraq: Lessons from Returns in Anbar’. Norwegian Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, and International Rescue Committee, February 2018. https://www.rescue.org/sites/default/files/document/2515/thelongroadhomefinal28022018.pdf

[5] ‘Iraq’s Camp Closures Leave 100,000 People in Limbo’, Norwegian Refugee Council, November 2020. https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/iraqs-camp-closures-leave-100000-people-limbo

How to apply

Interested individuals or consultancy firms, with relevant experience and skills based on the ToR, can submit their Expression of Interest (EOI), including the following:

  1. Cover letter of no more than 2 pages introducing the consultant(s) / company and intention to deliver the assignment. Preference will be given to consultant(s) / company with experience on both livelihood development and gender justice. The cover letter should also indicate the consultants’ availability for the proposed period.

  2. Technical proposal should provide details on proposed methodology responding to the ToR and the deliverables; capacity in line with the competencies required for the assignment, including references to past experience with similar assignments; CVs of the consulting team directly involved in the assignment, including their specific roles; and three professional referees. A technical proposal should not be longer than 15 pages, excluding annexes.

  3. Financial proposal includes a one-page budget of the offer, covering all major anticipated costs.

  4. Statement on the willingness to follow Oxfam’s Code of Conduct and guidance regarding safe programming.

Please submit the EOI and other documents by 12:00 am Iraq time by 7 November 2021 to [email protected] with BMZ Market Assessment in the subject line. No EOIs will be accepted after deadline.

All questions or clarifications of a technical nature are to be sent to: [email protected] not later than 7 November 2021, 5 pm. Interested applicants can collect the Terms of Reference (TOR) at Oxfam in Iraq Country Office, starting from 25 October 2021 (during working hours). Alternatively, the Oxfam Logistics team can send the ToR via email upon request***.***

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