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Iraq, Duhok Governorate Sustainable Empowerment in Rehabilitation Centers

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Jan 08, 2020 / 0 Comments

This project leads to the integration of both Syrians and detainees while enhancing economic opportunities through the creation of a confectionery plant in Dohuk’s rehabilitation centers (prisons) for women and minors, who will be trained in the production of sweets and quality carpets under the supervision of Syrian experts. 


Lead Authority or Organization: Duhok Governorate Administration represented by the Office of the Deputy Governor 

Area: Hitit Detention Centre for Women and Minors / Duhok, Iraq 

Beneficiaries: 217 detainees, of which 130 are minors (male and female)

Timeline: February 2018 – February 2019

Human Resources: Experts in the production of sweets and handmade carpets, labor supervisors and product marketers from the refugee community as well as detainees.

Funding Amount: Sweets production project: $85,000; Handmade carpets project: $82,000; Building expansion: $3,835,000

Source of Funding: Government funding (expansion of the prison building) and funding from the private sector (carpet production) 


Context and Challenges

The Duhok Governorate is located in the Kurdistan region and is hosting 85,779 refugees according to the UN. The fiscal crisis and high unemployment rates fuel tensions between refugees and the host community. In addition, the Duhok Governorate also suffers from the terrorist acts of Daesh, an increasing number of detainees, and the lack of capacity in rehabilitation centers (prisons).


One of the most pressing challenges in the Governorate is the integration of Syrian refugees. In addition, the social rehabilitation of inmates is also a serious constraint. In this context, the project aims at helping detainees to be productive during their time of arrest and detention by benefitting from the skills of Syrian refugees.


Actions and Reported Results

The project went through the following steps: 

  • Economic feasibility study to assess the project of sweets production and sales.
  • Extension of the prison building. Several meetings were held with competent authorities, who agreed to involve the Syrian labor force to complete the extension of the building. 
  • Equipping the prisons with a plant to produce sweets and a hall to manufacture quality carpets, as well as all necessary tools and materials needed to start and promote the activity.
  • Trainings for detainees. Under the supervision of Syrian experts, detainees will be trained on sweets production and on manufacturing quality carpets. 
  • Marketing of products. Products will be sold in markets and event halls, and remote ordering will be available through a website and social networks.


Reported Results

  • Improved economic situation. The production and sales of sweets and handmade carpets contributes to increasing private investments and reviving economic sectors.
  • Rehabilitation of detainees and empowerment of the local workforce. Upon release of detainees, they will have mastered the skills necessary to set up small enterprises and to find a job in confectionery plants or carpet factories.
  • Increased refugee socio-economic inclusion and sustained livelihood. The project contributes to the integration of refugees into the production and marketing process of products and provides job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods. 


Evidence and Beneficiary Feedback


The Governorate and beneficiaries accept and support this project. 


It is possible to foresee the effectiveness of this project from the success of a similar project carried out by the Mountain Media company in the Zirka Prison for men in Duhok in March 2017. With the help of foreign trainers, 15 detainees were trained on carpet manufacturing, for a financial return of $40,000.


Lessons Learned

Challenges and Risks

  • Risk that the prison administration may use detainees for their personal benefit to produce free-of-charge confectioneries for associates, which would have the opposite result to what is expected.
  • Consolidation of the new sweets market. Customers may be sceptic as the prices will be lower and goods will be produced by detainees.


Key Ingredients of Success

  • Low expenses due to absence of fixed costs (e.g. no rent, reliance on renewable energy).
  • Project accepted by the government as a new rehabilitation approach.
  • Willingness of detainees to be trained so they have skills for entering the workforce after they are released from prison.


Innovative Aspects

This is the first project to pair local economic productivity with social rehabilitation, by relying on renewable energy (solar energy) and all local stakeholders (host community, refugees, detainees) to produce high-quality and low-cost goods.



The production and growth of products will encourage scaling-up in other Iraqi social rehabilitation centers, as well as in neighboring countries who wish to provide economic opportunities while rehabilitating the society and creating social cohesion in fragile contexts.

As a recommendation, the project should provide as many tools and raw materials as possible to increase the production and to provide detainees with a greater opportunity to participate in the labor market.



Local authorities, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations provide and organize the project. The refugee community will provide assistance in designing and implementation, training detainees on sweets production, continuous supervision and marketing of products, and construction labor.


This post is part of a series of case-studies published in the CMI 2018 Refugees' Compendium and featuring host communities experiences in hosting refugees with relation to local economic development. The information in-here was provided by focal points in the relevant institutions, NGOs, local governments, etc


Read the story on the compendium


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