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In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges in developing countries already dealing with the presence of refugees and displaced populations. In a situation of already high unemployment for refugees and vulnerable locals, the lockdown measures put in place in many countries led to the closure of businesses and the halt of economic activities, with loss of jobs and new emergency needs arising.
In this context, a recent World Bank report estimates that 4.4 million national and 1.1 million refugees or IDPs households from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), Jordan and Lebanon, have fallen into poverty as a result. With rising unemployment and an increase in vulnerable households, public authorities are now trying to find ways to support the economic pitfall that emerged.
Creative solutions to generate jobs at scale should come from the private sector, as highlighted by an IFC report, and municipalities hosting refugees are working on finding innovative ways to attract the private sector to revive their local economies.
The COVID-19 crisis also brought about in a stronger way the pre-existing need to enhance digitalization in the region. Consultations held by the CMI during CMI online training workshop series in spring 2020 with 32 municipal representatives from the Host Municipalities Learning Network (HMLN) from Jordan, Palestine, and Lebanon confirmed that municipal staff and elected representatives lack digital literacy skills.
One-third of them confirmed their digital infrastructure was not well developed or not developed at all. The same cohort of municipalities also laid out possible solutions, including training municipal staff and local populations (including refugees) on digital skills, in the context of many of them (82%) taking measures to develop job opportunities for vulnerable populations.
As a result, of the digital gap, during the lockdown period municipal staff - especially from small municipalities - experienced difficulties in working from home or in navigating the online systems, while others lacked an internet connection inside the municipal buildings. Likewise, the local refugee and national population need digital training and digital infrastructure to allow the uptake of necessary services, such as upskilling, e-payment systems, e-wallet for those unbanked refugees, or e-learning equipment
The objective of this activity is to enhance the digital skills of the municipal staff of the Host Municipalities Learning Network, and build up the capacity of those local governments to offer vocational digital training to refugees and host community members in the Middle East (Iraqis, Jordanians, Lebanese and Palestinian) and Turkey.
In partnership with Microsoft, CMI will offer access to municipal representatives and local beneficiaries to a Microsoft-certified learning platform providing online courses on digital literacy and employability. As a first step, training on digital literacy, including Office 365 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) will be offered and launched for municipal staff on November 10, 2021.
The following courses will be available for training in Arabic or English:
Intermediate Digital Skills: Learn how to use software, online communication tools, and office tools, computer storage, and safety.
Office 365: Learners gain a deep understanding of how to use Microsoft 365/Office 365 (Including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) for productivity, collaboration, and general work functionality.
A Microsoft – CMI Certificate will be delivered upon completion of the training.
The training will be open for subscription to local government staff, elected representatives, and municipal partners (including NGOs and CSOs) from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey. The event will also accept the participation of representatives of national governments. Municipal representatives are highly encouraged to share invitations to the training with peers, colleagues, and interested local partners.
Registration to the learning platform (upcoming).