Press Release

WFP and The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research launch the “Jousour” youth initiative for digital skills

22 December 2022

BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research today launched the  “Jousour” (Bridges) initiative to provide youth with marketable digital and English language skills to boost their employability and enable them to build better livelihoods. 

Jousour is a bridge that can connect Iraqi youth with jobs through the pathway of digital skills. It is an extension of WFP’s award-winning EMPACT (Empowerment in Action) programme that is already being successfully implemented, since 2016, in Iraq and other countries such as Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Colombia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The programme was designed by WFP Innovation Accelerator based in Munich focusing on the development of transversal, entrepreneurial and technology skills required to succeed in the digital market. WFP is increasingly leveraging the digital economy to build the resilience of urban, displaced, and vulnerable households. With an internet connection, a device, and sufficient IT skills, young refugees and food-insecure youth can change their lives. EMPACT equips students with in-demand tech skills and matches their newly found talent with IT vacancies in private sector companies and online job marketplaces.

“We’re very excited about our collaboration with the Government of Iraq in scaling up one of our successful projects. The Jousour initiative will help Iraq’s youth with marketable  skills that build bridges (Jousour) towards a better life,” said WFP Iraq’s Country Representative, Mr. Ally Raza Qureshi. “Seeing our partners in the government, the development community, the NGOs and private sector and the media in this ceremony today is a testament to the keen interest of all parties in helping young Iraqi women and men to achieve their dreams and pursue their livelihoods.”

As a result of WFP’s ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Jousour initiative will be adopted and implemented by the Government of Iraq on a wider scale in universities and tailored to the Iraq context, with an emphasis on developing a future workforce that is equipped with enhanced digital skills that are in demand. This initiative aims to create solutions that enhance opportunities and contribute towards tackling the challenge of youth unemployment.

Through this initiative, Iraqi youth can prepare for emerging careers, contributing significantly to solving the unemployment challenges. It’s a win-win

outcome: young people at risk of hunger find stable jobs and generate life-saving income, and employers can hire qualified staff to meet their tech needs. Both contribute to a more productive economy and sustainable development.

Generous funding from WFP’s donors, such as Germany, enabled the launch of this initiative that will tackle unemployment in Iraq, one of the country’s serious economic issues facing about 27% of Iraqi youth.

Since its inception in Iraq, EMPACT (Jousour’s predecessor) programme has helped over 9,000 young women and men with digital skills and English language lessons. Many of these graduates were able to utilize the skills they learned in creating and finding work opportunities that helped to change their lives.


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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.


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Saif al-Tatooz

Saif al-Tatooz

Communications Officer

UN entities involved in this initiative

World Food Programme

Goals we are supporting through this initiative