Democratic Republic of the Congo
A somewhat improved security environment opened many new areas to humanitarians in the eastern provinces during the first quarter of 2005. However, disarming the remaining domestic and foreign militia became increasingly difficult and protracted in Ituri, the Grand Nord of North Kivu, South Kivu and the Central Tanganyika Triangle.Meanwhile, DRC reached a political turning point with 25.5 million citizens registering as voters in a huge electoral enrolment.
Humanitarian assistance requirements increased significantly, as previously isolated communities with urgent needs became accessible and as others fled their homes in fear of war or harassment by armed groups. An estimated 1.66 million persons are still displaced from their homes for varying lengths of time. A further 1.68 million people recently returning from displacement are trying to re-establish homes and livelihoods.
OCHA carried out humanitarian coordination in the field through 10 field offices/sub-offices in the eastern provinces. To further extend OCHA's presence, five Emergency Field Coordination Units operated in isolated crisis zones for periods of six months.
. Support the HC with the means and tools required for effective leadership of the humanitarian community
. Decentralise humanitarian coordination through a network of field offices
. Provide effective advocacy on behalf of vulnerable populations affected by emergencies and disasters
. Strengthen analytical and information systems to encourage key decision-makers to react in favour of vulnerable groups.
OCHA supported the HC in coordinating inter-agency planning and response in a number of ways. A multi-sector needs assessment proved fundamental to the development of regional humanitarian action plans. A decentralised planning process was begun to inform a comprehensive Action Plan for 2006, involving numerous international and national NGOs. The document lays the foundation for transition programming vital to the formulation of sustainable solutions. A Pooled Fund was initiated in a pre-pilot phase, under the Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative, with initial grants provided for 17 international NGO and UN projects.
Decentralised coordination and response to humanitarian needs was carried out in all crisis-affected provinces. Three hundred rapid assessment missions were conducted in the wake of emergencies, resulting in 90 humanitarian interventions.
A nationwide,multi-sector needs assessment successfully provided difficult to obtain primary and secondary data on the humanitarian situation throughout the DRC, which was very valuable during provincial planning for, and prioritization of, the DRC Action Plan. It was also was the basis for Common Humanitarian Frameworks for emergency response in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, and Ituri District.
Provincial IASC meetings brought together virtually all humanitarian actors each week for information sharing, response planning and monitoring in each of the 10 OCHA field locations.
In collaboration with UNICEF, Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council and concerned local associations, essential humanitarian principles were promoted and disseminated among key stakeholders, including military leaders, influential individuals, police and select government workers. The office produced widely-read humanitarian response and situation reports, and monthly humanitarian updates. A humanitarian website (www.rdc-humanitaire.net) was planned, designed and constructed, ready for roll-out with the launch of the 2006 Action Plan.
Five UNV information officers were recruited and assigned to field offices in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema Provinces , as well as Ituri and Tanganyika Districts. They were vital to gathering and disseminating humanitarian information at the provincial level, producing situation, monitoring, response and assessment reports, as well as more ad hoc analytical reports.
Over 80 national and international NGOs participated in the development of the 2006 Action Plan during 2005, compared to only three that had chosen to participate in the 2005 CAP. This was due to a concerted effort by OCHA to promote the Action Plan which emphasised "one humanitarian community", inclusive of NGOs and the UN, and consulting with donors to ensure that NGO projects would get equal consideration. Bottom-up strategising and planning in 2005 was participatory and inclusive, generating greater NGO ownership of the process and the Action Plan.
Specific national and provincial action plans for IDPs and returnees were not developed. However, the needs of these vulnerable groups were a fundamental part of provincial action plans, the DRC Action Plan and provincial contingency plans in the eastern provinces. Limited funding availability (21 percent of that requested) proved a key factor in a lack of operational leadership in the areas of internal displacement and civilian protection. A reinforced IDP Unit within the framework of the cluster mechanism is set to address that in 2006.
By the end of 2005, the humanitarian community had access to considerably more communities in the eastern provinces than at the start of the year. OCHA's ability to engage with civilian and military authorities or armed groups, particularly at the provincial level, opened the way for humanitarian assistance - in accordance with humanitarian principles and standards - in the Kivus, Katanga and especially in Ituri District. Yet, the security environment shifted continually and for varying lengths of time, so that enhanced access to some areas was often offset by different zones becoming inaccessible.
Six of 10 planned coordination antennae were established, in Shabunda and Baraka (South Kivu), Kabalo (Tanganyika District), Lubutu (Maniema), Lubero (North Kivu) and Mbuji Mayi (Kassai Oriental). This was fewer than planned due to constraints on funding and its timing. These short-term offices in crisis zones were instrumental facilitating access for humanitarian actors; establishing local coordination mechanisms; serving as a point of advocacy for local vulnerable populations; and facilitating dialogue with local authorities.
The Rapid Response Fund was fully funded, with additional in-kind contributions. The 90 interventions financed were among the first forms of humanitarian assistance to reach victims from pre-positioned stocks, within the first five days of a crisis on average, security permitting. Jointly managed by OCHA and UNICEF, the fund succeeded in providing shelter, healthcare, water, sanitation, emergency education and non-food items assistance to some 90 percent of about 420,000 newly-displaced people within 72 hours of displacement, security permitting.
Other projects, funded by the Emergency Humanitarian Intervention Fund and the pre-pilot phase 2005 Pooled Fund, assisted over 1.7 million longer-term IDPs and their host communities in the most crisis-torn provinces. They did so by facilitating physical access of aid workers to affected areas for the purpose of rehabilitating health, water and sanitation infrastructure.
While two staff received security and Sphere standards training, no general training of staff was carried out on those topics, or on first aid. Budget limitations and urgent daily operational demands kept those planned activities from being implemented.