Stabilisation in Eastern DRC through a Joint UN Reintegration Programme

May 9, 2017

It was beneath a clear sky, on Tuesday 25th April, that the community of Kiwanja, in the chiefdom of Bwisha, Rutshuru territory, The Province of North Kivu, gathered on Kilabu bridge. This gathering was for a hand-over ceremony of infrastructures constructed or rehabilitated by “Stabilisation in Eastern DRC through a Joint UN Reintegration Programme”, funded by the Government of Japan, to the local authorities of Rutshuru territory.

Kilabu bridge becomes a symbol of Kiwanja where erosion divided the city in two and threatens to carry away houses and two schools. This bridge re-establishes communication in the city, unites the communities, and recreates a link between the inhabitants of Kiwanja. 'This bridge is a symbol of peace and reconciliation, as well as a sign of freedom for us in Kiwanja', explains a woman who participated in the construction of the bridge. 'The children can now go to school without descending into the ravine, the motorbikes and the vehicles can pass through this bridge, and we worked hand in hand with members of the local community, which helped to strengthen social cohesion and peace' added another woman.

This project aims at particularly helping the reintegration of Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups (CAAFAG), and other vulnerable children within the community, through schooling and vocational training. The project also supports the populations affected by conflicts, which include young people and women so that they become drivers of economic recovery, innovation, peaceful coexistence and actors of sensitization on sexual and gender-based violence. 

Evelyne Bamba, Head of UNDP Goma Office, added that 'Specifically, for the socio-economic reinsertion of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups, the survivors of sexual violence and other vulnerable people within the society, this project has invested significantly in people, and we expect that this investment will effectively contribute to the long-term development of young people, not only to carry for themselves, but also to fight against all anti-values which may undermine social peace which is still precarious in the region'.

Her statement was further amplified by Ms. Eriko Asakura, first secretary of the Embassy of Japan in the DRC, who mentioned the extension of further support that aims at maximizing the results of the project. 'I also would like to emphasize that the contribution from Japan will not end today. Parallel to this project, Japan is also supporting the project “Strengthening Stabilization in Eastern DRC through a Joint UN Project for the Reintegration of Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups in Rutshuru, North Kivu”  with the total amount 2.7 million US Dollars, which is on-going, and will complement and maximise the results', said Ms. Asakura.

Tangible Results

The project has delivered several tangible results; 328 children formerly associated with armed forces and groups, (126 girls and 192 boys), as well as vulnerable children from the local community, have now returned to school. In this context, 13,000 children associated with armed forces and groups and other children have benefitted from the school feeding during the school year, which has helped keep them to come to school.  

 We also note that 658 children associated with armed forces and groups and other vulnerable children from the local communities have benefited from start-up kits to encourage economic activities after the vocational training. The implementation of the project resulted in the creation of 1005 temporary jobs in Kiwanja.

The project took gender aspects into account by revisiting the local development plan of Bwisha to integrate gender aspects. In addition, 5 community radios were supported to enable them to broadcast issues on local government, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the fight against gender-based violence and the reintegration of all vulnerable groups.

In addition to the Kilabu bridge, a local market building, a community warehouse for agricultural products and a vocational training centre of the National Institute for Professional Preparation (INPP) are handed over to the local authorities. The local market allows small sellers to carry out their commercial activities under better conditions. The training centre offers possibilities to young people to receive training in the areas of automotive mechanics, information technology, carpentry, electricity, cutting and sewing, cooking and hairdressing.

This joint project executed by UNICEF, UNDP, WFP, and UN Women, is financed by Japan with the amount of 4 million US Dollars. It benefits from the collaboration of the Congolese Government through the INPP and The Office of the Special Representative of the Head of State in charge of fighting sexual violence and the recruitment of children. This project has significantly contributed to the consolidation of peace, and the social reinsertion of children formerly associated with armed groups as well as other vulnerable people in the community.