Falling through the cracks: Iraq’s daily workers live without security, savings or support

Publication language
Date published
01 Jun 2021
Research, reports and studies
COVID-19, Inclusion, Social protection
Use in Humanitarian Programme Cycle
Crucial insights for needs assessment & analysis

In 2020, an estimated two billion people earned their livelihoods in the informal economy, accounting for 62% of all workers worldwide. Prevalent in all countries, informality is broadly described as activity unregulated by labour laws, taxation schemes, and frameworks that ensure social security and decent work conditions. In Iraq, issues that favour this “grey economy” are rife, including urbanisation, displacement, low access to finance, and bureaucracy. An estimated two-thirds of all workers in the country are in the informal sector. 

Daily wage earners are a prominent component of the grey economy in Iraq. Often referred to as “daily work,” this kind of employment is frequently characterised by low pay, manual labour, and limited opportunities for career advancement. Daily workers are unable to rely on savings or supplementary sources, limiting their capacity to deal with shocks. Various studies conducted in 2020 identified daily workers as one of the groups most affected by COVID-19.

To better understand daily workers’ profiles and experiences, as well as COVID-19’s impact on their lives and livelihoods, Ground Truth Solutions partnered with the Cash Consortium for Iraq to interview daily workers across four locations in December 2020.

We spoke to 47 men and women from urban and rural areas in Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din with facilitation support from CCI partners. For the purposes of this study, daily workers are defined as skilled or unskilled workers hired and paid to perform tasks at an hourly or daily rate for short periods. Our sample represents a diversity of occupations, including construction and agriculture workers, drivers, domestic workers, and service sector employees.