New Construction of shelters

Construction Project in Baghdad and Diyala

In 2011 a new construction project to improve the living conditions for beneficiaries in Baghdad and Diyala, was set up. The project focused on vulnerable groups with specific needs that are currently displaced from their area of origin, and who wish to return. The project aimed to provide enhanced living conditions for the returnees through the construction of shelters, to ensure their re-integration within their areas of origin.


RIRP as the implementing partner (IP) cooperated with the local Community Councils (CC’s) to support them in the selection of the most vulnerable beneficiaries. The CC’s provides the initial beneficiary lists to RIRP & UNHCR. Through the establishment of a Beneficiary Selection Committee (BSC), the initial list was analysed to ensure selection criteria had been met. The BSC consisted of: a representative from MoDM, Head of the CC, a local tribe member (Sheikh) as well as representatives from RIRP and UNHCR.

The BSC ensured that the ownership status of potential beneficiaries was without doubt, and found alternative solutions for beneficiaries without ownership rights, on a case by case basis. During all phases, legal documents were collected where possible. In some cases beneficiaries were not present to supply these documents and we relied on the CC’s to help with collection. After the assessment of the shelters the tendering phase started in which potential subcontractors were invited to bid. This involved an Invitation to Bid (ITB) being sent to the required number of companies – dependent on budget amount, bid opening, bid analysis, bid analysis committee, and finally the selection committee. All subcontractors were also requested to perform site visits prior to bidding. The subcontractors were selected according to their existing know how, experience (past performance), their financial ability and a realistic cost/performance ratio. After UNHCR approval of the tendering process, the selected subcontracting company signed their contract with RIRP and started their work (construction phase). During the construction phase RIRP site engineers performed regular site visits to monitor the work of the subcontractor with the aim to guide and instruct them wherever necessary. As soon as the work was approved completion certificates were handed out.

Constraints

During 2011 RIRP noticed that many of the beneficiaries were not in the area where the shelters were to be built, their original accommodation was demolished and they lived in other areas. Due to the majority of the beneficiaries owning and working farmland in the region, we found that some beneficiaries were available to be interviewed (especially head of household). Occasionally, the head of the household had already heard about the work being performed by RIRP and welcomed the help they were to receive. Many of the locations had received visits from organisations in the past and many of these visits were fact finding missions and data collection, but no work was performed. It made a nice change for the beneficiaries to receive visits from RIRP knowing that help would be provided. We still had a hard time explaining to some residents the aim and background of the project and also to convince them, that, this time really something will happen.

Diyala still remains a hotspot of insurgent activity, a small number of Al-Qaida still operate within this province and this can have an adverse effect on the residents when dealing with outside agencies such as RIRP.

RIRP staff was trained to be patient and diplomatic and they worked hard and faced a lot of discussions to convince the beneficiaries of the positive outcome of this project.
 

Cooperation with Community Councils 

When dealing with the CC’s, RIRP sometimes faced problems as they are not always supportive of our work there.
• The Community Councils in certain regions tried to put pressure on RIRP to force us to work with local subcontractors they have chosen for us.
• Initial list provided by some of the community councils, sometimes contain relatives and friends of the community council members and local  sheikh and some beneficiaries on the list are not entitled, due to ownership rights.
• Changing the list of beneficiaries can result in long drawn out discussions and delays to project start dates.

In some respects the CC’s were very helpful and useful, in Diyala as well as in Baghdad new construction sites, some of the CC’s arranged protection for our monitors and engineers while they conducted site tours.

• Provided “guards” for the construction areas during the night – to prevent theft of construction materials.
• Helped in tracking down missing beneficiary documents and sourced the correct legal papers we required.
• In many areas of the province the CC’s provided a valuable connection tool between RIRP, the contractor and the beneficiaries.
 

Security Situation

Baghdad

While there has been a marked improvement in the security of Baghdad, we still find many incidents on a daily basis affecting our work. These incidents usually cause curfews and road blockages, therefore, producing severe traffic delays (due to re-routed traffic); this has a chain reaction on the work performed at the sites due to non-attendance of workers and delays for construction materials. Regular terrorist related occurrences within Baghdad, such as road side IED’s and the exchange of small arms fire results in very sudden influx of security forces into the area. Some of these exchanges are within or close by some of the areas we are working in, resulting in whole areas being closed, cordoned off and workers being told to leave.

We faced a lot of security problems in Baghdad region, and we passed through many difficult situations, but as usual RIRP with the support of the UNHCR always overcome any difficulties that we found in our way.
 

Diyala

Due to the recent military operations and security plan, there has been a slight improvement in security throughout Diyala, nevertheless the situation remains volatile.
When summing up the project, experiences and lessons learnt, it shows that close cooperation and coordination with the CC’s is paramount to a successful project. Regular weekly meetings with the supervising engineers ensured that the project was kept on track; problems were solved in a timely manner and that corrective action was taken.
The cooperation with the UNHCR staff went very well and their guidance and advice on site is always highly appreciated, because a common understanding of the issues, needs, proper execution and best practice is a successful driving factor for the whole project. 

We believe that many of the rural areas would benefit from agricultural equipment to enable the beneficiaries to farm the land; these crops and fresh produce are consumed by the communities themselves and at times commercially traded at a very small scale in the local markets. Seed, fertiliser and small scale farming implements would help them to achieve this goal. In kind grants and small scale loans would enable the beneficiaries to invest in chicken farming, bee hives, dairy products and workshops for agricultural machinery. Projects to construct new wells and irrigation channels would also need to be realised, drilling new water wells is paramount in all rural areas, not just for irrigation of crops but also to provide much needed drinking water.

 

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