I. Key Messages
COVID-19 cases have been on the rise again in Iraq, which has spurred the government to curtail movement between governorates and decrease government employee worktime.
Even though prices of crude oil have increased above the average of 2020 and has thus led to increasing government revenues, the government continues to grapple with a tight liquidity, which has resulted in:
Delayed payment transfers to farmers for their 2020 production sales; and
A reduced transfer of 9% of the original budget allocated to the Public Distribution System (PDS), which has resulted in continuous delays in the distribution of food rations to beneficiaries.
Food prices have remained stable, with only vegetable oil prices rising.
Since most of the vegetable oil is imported, local prices have increased by around 45% since the currency devaluation in December 2020.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to spread in Iraq. As of 15 March 2021, the World Health Organization reported 695,489 confirmed cases and 13,406 deaths. Survival rate from COVID-19 in Iraq to date was at 91.4%, a decrease of 3% compared to the rate of survival recorded on February 25, 2021, which was 94.4%.
The Council of Ministers issued a number of measures to prevent the spread of a new strain of COVID-19, which included prevention of movement between governorates with the exception of humanitarian cases and travel, as well as reducing government employee worktime by 50%.
Oil prices have remained stable and above 2020 averages, increasing government revenues. Over the past two weeks, Basra heavy oil prices fluctuated between USD 60.52 and USD 61.26 per barrel. 4 Government oil revenues increased to $5 billion by the end of February, a 6% increase from January.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP),
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank continue to track the impact of this crisis on food security, with a focus on food availability, access, utilization and stability.