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Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Highlights

  • OCHA DRC ensured a principled, well-coordinated and timely response to emergency humanitarian needs of displaced populations, refugees, returnees and other vulnerable groups.
  • Greater participation and support from partners in implementing key humanitarian reforms such as the cluster approach, with enhanced cooperation on humanitarian funding mechanisms, including the Pooled Fund and the CERF.
  • Mobilized adequate financial resources to cover DRC’s most pressing humanitarian needs.
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Continuing armed attacks and military operations in several parts of DRC triggered new waves of displacement and left hundreds of thousands of people more vulnerable than ever. In this context, humanitarian coordination proved highly challenging. OCHA and its partners contended with a highly volatile security environment, related access problems, diverse needs among the target population and often limited capacities of local authorities.

Responding to a series of crises, OCHA maintained a presence in areas most affected by conflict and with the biggest humanitarian needs, using a broad network of sub-offices to coordinate effectively and ensure a proper information exchange among key actors. OCHA DRC worked closely with clusters and provincial coordination committees, and maintained regular contact with the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and local authorities to ensure a common understanding of humanitarian issues and facilitate humanitarian access.

Despite staffing constraints due to the rotation of personnel in key posts, OCHA contributed substantially to the overall efficiency of the humanitarian response. Except for areas inaccessible due to insecurity or logistical constraints, such as significant parts of Haut and Bas Uélé, the most basic needs of populations affected by violence were addressed, especially shelter, food, health, and water and sanitation sectors.

The Humanitarian Advocacy Group, chaired by the HC, continued to serve as a wider information-sharing forum and helped outline humanitarian strategies, cadres de concertation with provincial authorities (in Katanga, North and South Kivu). OCHA used clusters and provincial coordination committees to improve participation, IM and decision-making at national and provincial levels, resulting in more timely and coherent humanitarian responses. OCHA facilitated the humanitarian response in remote areas, such as Shabunda and Walikale in the east, where armed conflict triggered mass displacement and led to a huge increase in rape incidents.

Through regular contacts with authorities, armed groups and community leaders, OCHA continued to advocate the protection of civilians and humanitarian principles. Supported by a legal consultant, OCHA participated in the commission mixte (composed of representatives of the Ministry of Planning, Belgian Cooperation, UNDP and NGOs) and finalized a provincial draft law to govern non-profit organizations in DRC. The law is currently under discussion in the provincial assembly of North Kivu and should be rolled out to other DRC provinces later. It will be complemented by a national framework law.

The Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) constituted the main resource mobilization tool for humanitarian projects in DRC. OCHA and the wider humanitarian community successfully used the HAP to prioritize funding, based on emergency threshold levels of the five key humanitarian indicators for DRC: mortality and morbidity rates; malnutrition levels; protection of civilians; population displacement; and return. Regular monitoring of these humanitarian indicators by clusters considerably strengthened the quality of data and the ability to address gaps in the humanitarian response.

Common funds, notably the Pooled Fund set up in 2006, provided 30 per cent of HAP funding. Clusters and provincial committees were also involved in the early stages of the funding allocation process, especially in needs assessments and establishing priorities. Common funds helped organizations improve their programme planning cycle through designated funding envelopes, and allowed for a more flexible and timely response to sudden or emerging needs.

With support and guidance from a Gender Standby Capacity (GenCap) Advisor, gender has been mainstreamed in all new humanitarian programmes and cluster strategies for 2010. The Gencap Advisor also consistently reviews Pooled Fund projects. On a systemic level, the Comprehensive Strategy against Sexual Violence was developed by the MONUC Peacekeeping Operation and the UN Country Team in the course of 2009 and its objectives fully integrated into the HAP 2010.

OCHA DRC closed sub-offices in Lubumbashi and Moba. This was in line with OCHA’s entry/exit benchmarks, taking into account the end of the armed conflict and further stabilization of the humanitarian situation in Katanga province. The sub-office in Kalemie (Tanganyika territory) remained open to deal with the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict in South Kivu, including the outflow of IDPs. In Orientale Province and North and South Kivu, OCHA DRC kept a strong presence in provincial capitals and remote areas due to the ongoing armed conflict and the resulting humanitarian situation.