UN-ESCWA organized its second coordination meeting on the Smart Communities Project that is being implemented in Iraq and funded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The meeting was held in Beirut from 28 February to 1 March 2007.
The meeting covered the assessment of what has been achieved so far, as well as the review of the agro-food processing units (AFPUs) economics, the implementation plans of the Technology Dissemination Programme (TDP) and the possibility of disseminating it to other regions, which is the last phase of the project. The meeting also tackled the vocational training programmes and quality control systems in the AFPUs, as well as the training programmes on the establishment and management of small and micro enterprises.
Participants discussed the tasks planned for the next phase of implementation, which are: installing and commissioning AFPU equipment; signing a letter of agreement with Thi Qar University to start developing comprehensive studies of the local markets, quality assurance and other related topics; presenting a feasibility study of the proposed auxiliary projects suggested by the participants, which may be implemented within the framework of the TDP; and developing vocational training programmes on illiteracy eradication, English language courses, handicrafts and hairdressing for women.
The meeting allowed for the exchange of ideas, opinions and suggestions on the organization of work in the host sites; management and operation of the technology centers and AFPUs; as well as the framework for handing over the project to the local authorities. At the end of the meeting, participants were able, through discussion sessions, to draw a clear picture of the future itinerary of the project towards the completion of all its components.
On the other hand, and within the framework of implementing the Smart Communities Project in Iraq, two Internet servers (1GBps/256MBps) have been installed and commissioned in UN-ESCWA’s Multipurpose Technology Community Centers (MTCCs) in the north and south.
The work is continuing at the MTCCs as trainees present themselves for training courses on computer literacy, Microsoft Office programmes, Rosetta Stone Programme for language learning, and Internet usage programme. Work is also under way to develop PC-based tutoring on the basics of general accountancy, secretarial skills, illiteracy eradication, and handicrafts. These training programmes are meant to motivate and enable the local population of the host sites and their neighborhoods to enter the labor market and establish micro enterprises that ensure steady income and improve their economic and social status. In this context, an agreement was reached with some of the schools and scientific institutions in the south to train female trainers in a bid to encourage women’s education and activate their role in the local community.
It is worth mentioning that ongoing seminars are being held in both centers to announce the services and training programmes available and the ways to benefit from them on the educational and vocational levels.