Providing the people of Iraq, and in particular women, with the opportunity to participate in public decision-making and stimulate local initiatives is a key component of the U.S. government’s assistance program for Iraq, USAID said.

RTI will provide technical assistance to strengthen local administrations, civic institutions and civil society. RTI, an independent, non-profit organisation based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, will create programmes to increase management skills, knowledge and capacity of local administrators to direct services such as water, health, and public sanitation and in areas such as economic governance.

A provision in the contract allows RTI to authorise grants to both Iraqi and foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to improve municipal infrastructure, assist local NGOs with capacity building and undertake training programmes in communications, conflict resolution, leadership skills and political analysis. All activities under the RTI contract will target under-represented or ‘at risk’ groups, including organisations that promote women’s rights and work to help youth and minority groups to participate in the political process.