North Kivu: WFP and UNICEF rescue 30,000 school children

PAM and UNICED in DRC

WFP and UNICEF unite to improve the living conditions of children (UNICEF DRC Morton)

EMERGENCIESThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP), in partnership with the non-governmental organisations Mercy Corps, Diakonie and PAP RDC, completed a cash transfer operation that addresses the priority needs of 92,000 vulnerable persons affected by the armed conflicts in the Lubero and Rutshuru territories in Eastern DRC.

Children and inter-community conflicts in DRC

80%  of displaced persons live with host families. Among them are 30,000 school children who have difficulty going to school because of poverty and  the lack of schooling infrastructure.

Between January and August 2016, almost 20,000 families were forced to flee from the villages in the Bwito chiefdom (Rutshuru territory) following inter-community conflicts and attacks committed by armed groups. Some of the displaced families’ houses were set on fire and their fields and livestock pillaged; others had their belongings extorted by armed men as they were fleeing.

WFP and UNICEF unite to bring a holistic response to North Kivu

Since October 25, WFP and UNICEF have been responding to this situation by implementing an innovative project of cash transfers. Mercy Corps, Diakonie and the Support Program for the Development of  Forest Dwelling Communities (Programme d’appui au développement des populations forestières) in the Democratic Republic of Congo is conducting this project in the cities of Bulotwa, Kayna, Kanyabayonga, Kaseghe, Kirumba and Mighobwe. The project is intended to address the needs of vulnerable populations and the families who host them in order to help them be more resilient.

Given their needs, it was necessary for UNICEF and the WFP to combine their efforts in order to bring a holistic and coherent response, in the hopes of improving the living conditions of women and children“, stated Thierry Dentice, head of the UNICEF bureau in Eastern DRC.

Cash transfers in DRC aim for self-sufficiency

Experience has shown that when women receive money directly, they organize their life in total dignity. Besides dealing with their basic needs, they invest in small businesses, or in production, such as in farming tools, seeds, and small livestock to generate further revenue for their own use and as savings for eventual crises” he continued.

Through the joint intervention, the organisations involved  achieved  the biggest cash transfer operation in the history of humanitarian responses in Eastern DRC, not only by the extent of the resources that were mobilized, but also by the  number of recipients reached.

The many benefits of cash transfers

Each of the 12,800 recipient families received an amount based on family size of  between $92 to $185 US to provide for their basic needs (food, essential household items, access to water, health and  hygiene).

Winning the fight against hunger requires flexibility and innovation in how we approach interventions” indicated Philippe Martou, head of the WFP bureau in North-Kivu. ” The cash transfer has many  advantages for all interveners. It not only enables vulnerable families to buy the food of their choice , but it also stimulates the local economy through  the  injection of money in the market place. Lastly,  for the WFP, this type of assistance reduces the costs associated with the traditional way of storing and transporting food“,  he explained.

Choosing to use cash transfers in DRC

This operation which restores the hope of communities in crisis was carried out with funding  provided by the Department for International Development (DFID), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the European Union’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and by Japan.

It is part of the commitments made by donors and UN agencies at the last World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (Turkey) in May 2016.  During the Summit, United Nations Secretary Ba Ki-moon, called on humanitarian organisations to  conduct their interventions using the transfer of money when the market place and the operations permit it.

WFP and UNICEF in DRC, more than emergency aid

In addition to providing emergency programs, UNICEF makes a difference in the lives of millions of Congolese children by providing programs that support maternal and child health, the promotion health and hygiene, education, child protection, the fight against HIV/AIDS, etc.  UNICEF also supports programs that increase local capacities of communities to guarantee access to basic services that is sustainable in order to ensure the rights of all children.

The WFP is the largest humanitarian agency in the world combating hunger by distributing food during emergencies and by working with communities to improve their nutritional status and resilience. Every year, the WFP assists some 80 million people in close to 80 countries.

More info about cash transfers in DRC

Translated from French by Marguerite McMillan

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Augustin Kinienzi

Augustin est journaliste et secrétaire de rédaction du Journal Le Potentiel. Il s'est spécialisé sur les faits de société, notamment les questions concernant l'éducation, la santé, le genre et l'environnement.

Augustin has been a journalist and editorial secretary with the Journal Le Potentiel since July 2002. He specializes in societal issues related to education, health, gender and environment.

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