Republic of Congo
The country remained relatively stable politically during 2005 even though most of the major political initiatives related to the Pool region – the organisation of partial legislative elections; the absence of an electoral list and the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme – were not concluded. As a result, the humanitarian operating environment was still characterised by insecurity and difficulty with access to people in need.
In this context, OCHA established a sub-office in Kinkala where a UN Antenna was opened in April 2005. Despite the strong will of the humanitarian community, many basic needs in (water/sanitation, education, agricultural and health sectors) were not met due to prevailing insecurity. The nutritional situation of a vast majority of the population remains precarious in the Pool region, and there are still considerable reconstruction and rehabilitation needs. Seventy percent of the population continued to live on less than US$ 1 a day.
- Provide support to the RC/HC by maintaining a humanitarian advisor in Brazzaville and recruiting a humanitarian affairs officer for the sub-office in Kinkala
- Encourage the involvement of UN Agencies and their respective programmes in the Pool region
- Issue a Mid-Year Review of the CAP and revision of the strategy according to new developments on plans for health, education, nutrition, security and coordination
- Prepare the 2006 CAP in line with the new strategy and highlight the transition challenges
- Provide timely and accurate information on the humanitarian situation by collecting and disseminating data on the Pool region
OCHA activated and maintained the usual interagency coordination mechanisms, such as IASC forums, sectoral meetings and technical meetings with the government and UN Agencies, which facilitated information-sharing and allowed partners to reassess ROC’s common strategy and priorities.
A contingency planning exercise was held in July following the decision of the transition government in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to postpone elections. In particular, OCHA organized an inter-agency visit to the Pool region, where rebel groups were urged to allow access to the needy population. Following consultations with all actors, OCHA established a common contingency plan which highlighted: a joint analysis and scenario; planning assumptions; strategy and objectives; management and coordination arrangements; and response modalities.
In lieu of updating the September 2004 Contingency Plan, the humanitarian community produced a mid-year review of the situation as detailed in the 2004 CAP.
Furthermore, a national contingency plan (with the involvement of government authorities, UN Agencies and NGOs) was set up in June, and updated in July, after the postponement of the DRC elections.
The OCHA office in Kinkala, although effectively opened in the last quarter of the year (due to the prevailing insecurity) was able to provide regular and timely information on the situation as it unfolded in the Pool region.
A Rapid Response Fund was set up in April to provide financial support to facilitate access, speed deployment of humanitarian actors and enable delivery of emergency assistance to the population in need.
In 2005, OCHA produced nine monthly reports and eight situation reports. Six of the eight reports focused on situation in the Pool Region and were produced after the full establishment of the OCHA sub-office in Kinkala in September 2005. After the UN pulled out from Kinkala for security reasons in November, OCHA produced five security-monitoring reports in November and December.
OCHA’s participation and active involvement in the organisation of a UN Senior Management Meeting retreat brought the Pool question to the core of the UN’s agenda, including the need to ask for concrete actions and a stronger presence and activities in the region, resulting in the deployment of four UN international project staff in Kinkala.
Despite the challenges of drawing due attention to the Pool region, including political arrangements which were not finalised and limited access to the population for security reasons, OCHA’s advocacy contributed to CAP funding of 55 percent (compared to 30 percent in 2004).
OCHA’s presence in Kinkala encouraged participation of local humanitarian actors (from government authorities, NGOs, civil society and UN local projects managers) in common targeting and joint advocacy efforts and enabled information sharing through meetings and field visits.
In October, OCHA’s humanitarian access negotiations with the Ninja rebel groups in Mindouli contributed to a significant increase in the provision of assistance to vulnerable populations by humanitarian agencies. Over 60 percent of the conflict-affected population in Kindamaba and Mindouli was assisted by ICRC and MSF-H.
Throughout the year, OCHA-led coordination for a such as IASC groups, cluster meetings and technical meetings with the government and UN Agencies were attended by almost 100 percent of humanitarian agencies and were a good source of reliable information for all actors. The RC/HC made use of OCHA’s analytical reports on several occasions to draw attention to the humanitarian situation in the Pool region and advocate for action.
Through the CAP, projects were carried out targeting a total number of 100,000 individuals. However, no NGO was funded under the CAP 2005, resulting in an acute lack of financial resources for most NGOs to continue their activities. As a result, at least four NGOs were obliged to close their offices in 2005.
The funding squeeze therefore resulted in a significant decrease in the number of humanitarian actors operating in the country.
It was not possible for OCHA, for security reasons, to organise a joint inter-agency assessment mission to collect and compile data on vulnerable populations, in order to facilitate advocacy campaigns for human rights and protection of civilians. This assessment mission is due to be carried out in 2006.