Cablegate: Eprt Diyala: Lack of Ngo Support Impedes Further Progress

DE RUEHGB #2210/01 1971418
R 151418Z JUL 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) This is an ePRT Diyala reporting cable.


2. (SBU) Development at the Qa'da and Nahia level in South Diyala
is being held up by lack of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
support. Efforts by the South Diyala embedded Provincial
Reconstruction Team (ePRT) have had a significant impact in
improving local governance; however, further progress will require
the assistance of programs targeting capacity building and economic
development. These programs are implemented by NGOs with specific
expertise not found at the ePRT. The continuing difficulty for NGOs
- both USAID implementing partners and others - to operate in South
Diyala due to the variable security situation has hindered progress
in the areas of governance, economic development, and civil society.
End Summary.

3. (SBU) Since our team's inception in October of 2007 the bulk of
our activity has been in helping Qa'da and Nahia governments in
South Diyala operate more effectively. Through a program of
mentorship we have engaged with Qaim Maqams, Mudiyars (city
managers), and councils in order to enable them to address their
issues. As governance has improved, we have begun to shift more of
our focus toward economic development.

4. (SBU) When we first began our work, local government in many
areas was barely functioning. Security in South Diyala was such
that many council members refused to attend meetings, or had fled
the area entirely. Recent gains in security have enabled local
governments to re-form, and the ePRT has assisted the process by
mentoring key leaders, helping re-establish the lines of
communication (LOCs) from the Mukhtars through the Nahia and Qa'da
governments to the province. However, our ability to affect change
is limited by the vast needs of local governments for capacity
building, and the relatively small size of the ePRT. Our mentoring
efforts are focused on a handful of local leaders - usually just the
mayors and council chairmen - of our area.

5. (SBU) Likewise, our ability to affect economic growth is limited
to one-off engagements with key business leaders. A broader and
more and systematic approach is needed in order to continue progress
and reinforce the gains that have been made. Specifically, South
Diyala requires training programs for local government, economic
development programs that address shortfalls in financing and
technical assistance, and civil society programs that can provide
support for nascent political organizations and communities seeking
reconciliation or a greater voice in political affairs.

6. (SBU) There are NGOs operating in Iraq that already offer
programs in these areas. The bulk of these are USAID implementing
partners; however, there are other international and local groups as
well. NGOs fled South Diyala during the fighting in 2007 and have
been hesitant to return to the area citing security concerns. This
was understandable based on the security situation in the past.
However, today the security situation is increasingly permissive.
Local governments are operational, local economies are flourishing,
and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are returning to their
homes. To solidify and expand on the gains achieved by the military
surge, it is imperative that we bring to bear the expertise of USAID
implementing partners and other NGOs.

7. (SBU) There are several specific examples of USAID-funded
projects that have been hindered by the security situation and with
which we are working closely to expand their current focus to
include South Diyala as security improves:

-- The Local Governance Project (LGP), implemented by Research
Triangle Institute (RTI), provides training for local government
officials principally at the governorate level, but also at the
Qa'da and Nahia levels. This program has suffered loss of life,
kidnapping and injuries to their staff in their efforts to support
activities in Diayala. As a result, some training sessions are
cancelled when the security situation is not permissive for staff to
operate safely. Building governmental capacity at the local level
is the most critical task of the ePRT, and we need to begin
implementing a programmatic solution that can provide wholesale
training to councils, mayors, and service managers rather than
relying only on the ePRT's mentoring efforts of a few key leaders.
RTI currently has training sessions scheduled from July 12 - 30, and
in concert with our military counterparts, all parties are doing
everything they can to support their efforts and ensure the training
takes place. Recently, the RSO posted to the USAID compound in
Baghdad cautioned that the security situation is still uncertain in
Diyala, and would not advise the implementing partner to attempt any
activities at this time. The LGP program will move forward with
implementation in Diyala as soon as the security situation permits.

-- The Community Action Program II (CAP II), implemented in Diyala
by ACDI/VOCA, has so far been hesitant to operate in South Diyala

BAGHDAD 00002210 002 OF 003

due to security concerns. CAP II is currently operating in the
Kurdish-dominated Khainaqin and Kifri Qa'das, but has limited its
activities to individual war victims' assistance under the Marla
Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund in the south. ACDI/VOCA did an
assessment of Baqubah in February, but we have not seen any action
on the ground. In its next iteration, there are plans for CAP III
to include Baqubah Qada in the area of operations covered by the
Baghdad CAP region. It is hoped that this will provide better
access to the area for the CAP III implementing partner.

-- The Community Stabilization Program (CSP), implemented by IRD,
has been operational in Baqubah since the fall 2007. This program
is designed to operate in post-kinetic areas, but has been and
continues to be, hindered by its security restrictions. For
example, IRD expatriate personnel have not been allowed to go to
Khan Bani Sa'ad due to the recommendation of the IRD security
provider despite the fact that an ePRT officer lives at the Joint
Combat Outpost (JCOP) for a week at a time. This delays the
program, as the IRD expatriate personnel need to be in the area to
hire local nations to implement CSP on the ground. Pending a change
to the IRD security assessment, IRD has begun using local staff to
begin the process of commencing operations in South Diyala. CSP
continues to implement projects in and around the city of Baquba,
which shows that they are able to adapt as the security situation
improves. Likewise, everywhere IRD personnel travel they have to be
escorted by their personal security detail. Despite the fact that
IRD only moves in military convoys with PRT and ePRT officers when
traveling to Khan Bani Sa'ad, they still require an extra level of
protection per the terms of the contract with their security
sub-contractor. While these security assessments are necessary
before engaging in an area, they may slow the ability of CSP expat
staff to move about the battle space and manage their programs.

-- Iraq Community-based Conflict Mitigation (ICCM), implemented by
Relief International (RI), has completed assessments of four
communities in Diyala and is currently analyzing the factors
contributing to conflict in these locations. ICCM will proceed by
identifying projects that will contribute to mitigation of these
conflict factors. We have high hopes that this project will be able
to conduct conflict mitigation in key areas of our operational

8. (SBU) With elections looming, the ePRT would welcome greater
engagement with groups such as the National Democratic Institute and
the International Republican Institute headquartered in the KRG to
provide our local partners with assistance for political party
organizational and platform development skills training, voter
registration, and get out the vote campaigns.

9. (SBU) As security improves, Iraqi NGOs have begun to resurface
in the province. We are currently engaging three NGOs - The Happy
Family Organization, The Beautiful Diyala Association, and Iraqi
Women for Gender Equality - to asses how we can partner together.
There has been a paucity of local NGOs in South Diyala, but the fact
that they are starting to trickle back into the province is an
indicator of the improving security situation in the province and
should serve as an example to other NGOs.

10. (SBU) The most successful NGO in South Diyala has been the
micro-finance institution al Thiqa. Al Thiqa has received funding
from CPA and various USAID implementing mechanisms (Izdihar and
QRF/IRAP). Additionally, technical assistance is provided through
the USAID-funded Tijara program. They have returned to Baqubah
after being forced to flee during last year's fighting and are now
preparing to open an office in Jedida as well. As of the end of
May, al Thiqa had disbursed 44 loans totaling $107,400 in Baqubah.
Al Thiqa is an Iraqi-run NGO, operating on its own without any
visible support or connection to CF. This is precisely the kind of
programmatic solution that South Diyala requires. Where Quick
Reaction Funds (QRF), Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP),
and Iraqi CERP (ICERP) tend to be limited to unsustainable one-off
engagements, NGOs like al Thiqa can offer long-term solutions that
support sustainable economic activity. Additionally, the
USAID-funded Tijara program Business Development Services team is
closely working with ePRT South Diyala to establish a new Small
Business Development Center to improve the capacity of the local
business community.


11. (SBU) The security situation today in South Diyala has improved
considerably from last year. Important indicators of this
improvement are that several NGOs are now operating in the area with
great success. We are pushing hard to bring in more NGOs and will
engage with them directly to show concrete evidence of the improved
situation. Intermittent attacks in Baqubah show that there are
still substantial risks to working in the area, but such incidents
have at last become the exception rather than the norm. Until NGOs
with the required development skills begin operations in South
Diyala, we will not have the required resources we need to push our

BAGHDAD 00002210 003 OF 003

success to the next level. While we acknowledge that South Diyala
is not a risk-free environment, the security situation has greatly
improved over the last five or six months. Now is the time to take
advantage of security gains that Coalition Forces have fought for
and help bring greater stability to the region. End Comment.


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