A cash-for-work project in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Cash for Work The Partnership for Prospects

As many as 6.5 million Syrians have left their country in order to escape the war. Most of them are staying in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The arrival of refugees has presented these host countries with enormous challenges. There is a shortage of food, water, power and housing, and health facilities cannot cope with the large number of patients. But there is also a shortage of job and education opportunities.

The UNHCR camp for Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in Iraq, photo taken in 2014.

Iraq, too, is hosting over 270,000 people from Syria. And Iraq has nearly 1.2 million people who have been internally displaced by attacks carried out by the terrorist organisation calling itself Islamic State, especially in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (as at June 2023).

The German government is not leaving the people in the region around Syria to cope with these challenges alone. Beyond meeting the immediate basic needs of refugees, it helps refugees and local people through the Partnership for Prospects, an employment drive for the Middle East. The Partnership was launched at the international donor conference for Syria in February 2016. It provides new prospects for people on the ground, thus helping to stabilise host communities.

Objectives and implementation

In 2020, the BMZ committed a total of 353.5 million euros for the Partnership for Prospects.

The funding is channelled through the Special Initiative “Displaced Persons and Host Countries” and dedicated to the objectives described below.

In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, road works are being carried out as part of a cash-for-work project.

Objective 1 Create quickly available income opportunities

The Partnership for Prospects is based on cash-for-work activities to provide quickly available income opportunities for refugees and local people from host communities, enabling them to provide for themselves and their families. This eases people's financial stress, improves the social standing of refugees in the host countries and strengthens social cohesion, as refugees work alongside people from host communities.

As part of a cash-for-work project in Mosul, a school is being rehabilitated.

Objective 2 Improve general living conditions

In order to ensure that the cash-for-work activities will not just generate income but also improve the general living conditions in host regions, the BMZ focuses these activities on the following fields:

  • local services (simple tasks like collecting and recycling waste),
  • labour-intensive infrastructure projects (building homes, schools, roads and sewers),
  • financing of wages (additional teachers and classroom assistants as well as health personnel), and
  • rebuilding liberated areas by repairing municipal infrastructure (buildings and roads).

A special effort is made by the BMZ to involve women in its projects. For example, the share of women employed under the programme in the field of construction is 10 per cent, and in the field of education it is over 60 per cent.

Ratreb Al Quaisi from Jordan is taking part in a carpentry training course in the GIZ project "Employment-oriented qualification in trades".

Objective 3 Provide long-term opportunities

In addition to supporting what are usually short-term jobs, the Partnership also provides funding so that people on the ground can take part in vocational training programmes or start their own businesses and thus build a more long-term basis for their livelihoods.


In 2020, the Partnership for Prospects created some 88,800 jobs. This means that the programme has benefitted about 470,800 people (workers and their family members).

Thanks to the funding of additional posts for teachers and auxiliary staff, more than 473,000 children are now able to go to school.

Vocational training programmes are being attended by 30,000 people, which gives them employment prospects for the medium term – also with an eye to rebuilding their home countries.

All these activities reduce the pressure on host cities and communities and help to ease tensions in the region.

Moreover, the increased purchasing power created through the additional income and the improved infrastructure strengthen the local economy. Thus, the Partnership for Prospects is in effect a local economic development programme.