Assessment of Civil Society Organizations’ Role in the Health Sector in Post-Emergency Iraq (July 2022)


Executive Summary

This report details the purpose, approach, and findings of a mixed-methods study of civil society actors’ current and potential roles in the Iraqi health sector during the ‘post-emergency’ phase. As Iraq transitions from an active humanitarian emergency to a post-emergency setting, new spaces for civil society intervention are likely to emerge. While this moment presents an opportunity to rethink stakeholder roles and partnerships to increase collective impact, it also threatens to undermine efforts to address the ongoing needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, refugees, host communities, and other vulnerable groups in Iraq if attention moves abruptly from humanitarian to development efforts.

With the goal of better understanding the unique strengths and challenges of civil society organizations (CSOs), their support needs, and ideas for their health sector involvement in a post-emergency Iraq, the Migration Health Division (MHD) at IOM Iraq conducted surveys and key-informant interviews with a range of health care actors in early 2022. A total of 17 individuals representing governmental and nongovernmental organizations shared their perspectives via an online survey, and 11 individuals participated in key informant interviews.

While survey and interview participants have varying ideas about the exact role CSOs could play, there is consensus that they will be an essential part of strengthening and sustaining healthcare in Iraq going forward. Many CSOs bring unique skills, perspectives, and social capital with local communities to the table, and many have developed expertise in specific health areas.

However, without reliable funding, capacity-building support, and better coordination with each other and with other health sector actors, CSOs will struggle to maximize their efforts to improve health.

IOM Iraq hopes that the findings from this exploratory work offer insight into the value, potential, and needs of CSOs as vital contributors to achieving better health in Iraq.