Norwegian Church Aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Presence since: 1990 (Also supported in 1973-1984)
- Funds used in 2015: 32.5 million NOK
Norwegian Chuch Aid has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1990. We also supported diaconal work for nine years in the seventies.
Our programme in DRC focuses on clean water and safe hygiene for internally displaced people, prevention of sexual violence and restoring those who have been affected by it, and to bring people that have been kidnapped as a child and misused as soliders back to a normal and healthy life.
Access to safe water and sanitation services is a challenge for most of the population in DRC. Limited knowledge of positive hygiene behaviours causes lack of sanitation, poor hygiene practices and use of contaminated drinking water; all these factors result in high prevalence of diarrhoea (the third highest cause of child deaths in the country).
This situation is further exacerbated by the continuing displacement of populations in Eastern DRC where NCA is operating. Most of the displacements are in North Kivu province, which hosts one third of DRC’s entire displaced population (635,922 people).
Access to water supply and sanitation facilities will be improved both through the rehabilitation of existing water and sanitation structures or construction of new structures in selected and proactive communities and households, IDP sites and public institutions such as primary schools and health centres. Often significant financial resources are required to make this possible, as WASH infrastructure can be costly (particularly water systems), in addition to necessary human and material resources.
DRC has become known for its high levels of conflict-related sexual violence. Reliable data is not available, but tens of thousands of women, men, girls and boys have been raped the last two decades. According to the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in DRC, national and rebel forces are equally responsible, as half the number of reported cases of GBV between 2010 and 2013 were attributed to members of FARDC (national armed forces) or other state agents.
In order to change social norms, Norwegian Church Aid's programme will focus first on women, men, girls and boys' knowledge of their rights, and how to claim them. It is however equally important to train duty bearers to ensure that they know their responsibilities. When women become more independent or claim their rights they are at risk of increased domestic violence, and therefore equally important to work with husbands to accept the advantages of more equal relationships. An example of this work is the Tamar campaign initiated by the Interfaith platform, which promotes gender equality, women’s rights and positive masculinities. There is a strong in-terrelationship that exists between the social norms condemning GBV and violence in general as defined through the peacebuilding programme.
Eastern DRC continues to be characterised as a conflict/post-conflict setting with chronic insecurity and more than 34 active armed groups operating in North and South Kivu. People live in fear of violence on part of these groups or the Congolese security forces, which require many individuals and families to organise their lives around avoiding violence, rather than developing themselves and their communities.
This is particularly true for women, who face structural gender inequality and GBV that are exacerbated by the conflict As a consequence of long term and wide spread conflict, violence has been increasing normalised causing the threshold for resorting to violent means to resolve conflicts to be lowered. This also extends to the household level where domestic abuse is common. While local traditions and mechanisms for conflict prevention and transformation exist, they have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the conflicts, and this leaves many communities without structures which can address conflicts at an early stage.
In 2016 NCA DRC will develop the peacebuilding programme further, continuing with the current focus areas, but adding selected elements in order to increase the impact of the programme. Current programme components are described below, and address several of the preconditions in the theory of change:
Norwegian Church Aid believes it is only the people and the communities themselves that can bring about lasting change. We implement our programmes together with local partner organisations and in close contact and coordination with the local government.