Iraq Durable Communities and Economic Opportunities (DCEO/Tahfeez) Project

Speeches Shim

An Iraqi woman harvesting amber rice in southern Iraq
An Iraqi woman harvesting amber rice in southern Iraq

Through private sector growth and job creation, USAID is helping Iraq’s vulnerable communities become more adaptive, resolve conflict, and enhance livelihoods.

Project Snapshot

  • Main objectives: To advance the economic well-being and increase the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities. 

  • Geographic areas: Ninewa, Erbil, Dohuk, Dhi Qar, Baghdad, Anbar, and Basrah.

  • Budget: $125 million 

  • Project Duration: September 2019 - September 2024

  • Implementing Partner: Chemonics International 


From sliding global oil prices, ongoing social and political instability, and the spread of COVID-19 adding extra strain on public services and resources, Iraq faces many challenges to achieving greater stability and prosperity. Finding a way to break free of this cycle of fragility requires investing in local economic development that supports business development, creates jobs, and improves the livelihoods of Iraq’s most vulnerable communities. 

USAID Response

The Durable Communities and Economic Opportunities (DCEO) project (known in Arabic as Tahfeez, meaning “encouragement”), helps Iraq’s vulnerable communities be more adaptive, resolve conflict, and enhance livelihoods through local private sector growth and job creation. 

Business Competitiveness and Job Creation Initiative 

The project is working with micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to support the development of local business associations and networks, identify barriers to growth and trade, and advocate collectively for policy changes that address these challenges. As the name Tahfeez implies, the project also seeks to expand opportunities for young Iraqi entrepreneurs to help accelerate the growth of their small businesses. USAID offers cutting-edge business incubation services that include training and mentorship in critical core business skills, networking opportunities to connect young entrepreneurs from across the country, in-kind grants, and access to financial support. The project will also support individuals eligible through the Marla Fund through entrepreneurship, business acceleration, and enterprise growth services.

100 Solutions for Stability 

The project is working with selected communities impacted by conflict and their leadership to develop locally-driven processes for identifying and resolving conflict sustainably and peacefully through inclusive dialogue and practical solutions. With a package of technical assistance, skill building and facilitation initiatives adapted to each community’s needs, DCEO/Tahfeez seeks to build and disseminate approaches that contribute to long-term, local stability. In addition, the project will provide training and networking services to Iraqi victims of war to help them gain high-quality and sustainable sources of livelihood.

Anticipated Results 

  • Increase community capacity to identify and mitigate drivers of conflict, promote stability, and foster inclusivity.  

  • Strengthen community leadership and enhance resource mobilization. 

  • Boost the social and economic recovery of victims of conflict to help them successfully reintegrate into their communities. 

  • Promote economic growth by supporting the development of local businesses and private sector networks.

  • Enable youth entrepreneurship by facilitating access to financing and business incubation services to accelerate growth.