Together communities and local government in Iraq: CHF International moves the Community Action Program into its third phase

In the five years since its inception, the Community Action Program (CAP) has been responsible for implementing thousands of infrastructure-repair and development projects in Iraq, and has been one of building blocks of democracy, instituting grass-roots, democratic Community Action Groups (CAGs) around the whole of Iraq. Now, CHF International has been awarded over $39 million by USAID ( to undertake CAP III in al Anbar governorate and South-Central Iraq, from October 2008 to March 2010.

CAP employs the Participatory Action for Community Enhancement (PACE) methodology in its development work. In PACE, Community organizers work to form community committees to identify local needs and work with local government structures to help implement the plan. These could be, for example, vocational training, road repairs, school repairs, waste removal or street lighting. Then the community works with CHF International to hire local labor and undertake the necessary projects.

Through this process, CHF International has created thousands of jobs and has implemented first steps of local democracy in hundreds of communities across Iraq.

CAP III aims now to further integrate local government into community participation. CAP III will continue to create CAGs and undertake infrastructure repair projects, and it will also implement a training program for local government with its experienced partner the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Local Iraqi government officials will be trained to understand the process of community participation in infrastructure development. This is to ensure that when the completed projects are handed over to the local government, they are sustained in the long-term, and that the future of local government and community interactions are democratic and participatory.

CAP III will continue to involve assisting civilian victims of conflict through the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund (MRIWWF).

Dr. Judith Hermanson, Senior Vice President of CHF International says: 'Through phases I and II, the Community Action Program has been successful at increasing stability in Iraq through strengthening democratic institutions, stimulating employment and supporting sustainable livelihoods. In CAP III, we look forward to continuing this work by bringing in local government involvement at all stages in the process. CHF's experience shows that community-driven and community-invested development is the most effective method of improving the lives of people in post-conflict zones - and now we want to ensure that these improvements are sustainable and can help create stability for the people of Iraq.'

CHF is one of four organizations implementing CAP III in Iraq.

Highlights of CHF International's involvement in the first two phases of CAP from May 2003 to June 2008.:

- $55.4 million - the value of CHF's USAID funded CAP projects

- 639 community associations formed and trained in the CAP process

- 845 projects completed

- 90,000 Iraqis actively participated in democratic activities and processes

- 11.3 million Iraqis directly benefited from CHF CAP projects (51% women)