With Iraqi forces planning to retake Mosul and the remaining strongholds in Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the coming months, UN agencies and their partners have mobilized to address what has been expected to be the largest and most complex humanitarian crisis in the world. Given the scale of destruction and displacement, the need to provide urgent, life-saving assistance has overshadowed eventual reconstruction efforts. Post-conflict development efforts will be critical, however, as they offer an opportunity to restore livelihoods and prevent a return to radicalization.
Restoring agriculture should be a central component of reconstruction efforts. While the oil industry dominates Iraq’s economy, agriculture may have recently employed up to one-third of the population and has the potential to drive future growth. Agriculture-driven growth also has the potential to improve food security, increase self-sufficiency, and benefit poor populations in both rural and urban areas disproportionately.