Central Africa: MDRP partners gather for the last time at the World Bank
A Time for Reflection
Over the course of 4 days, MDRP partners gathered in Washington for the final annual meetings of the Multi-country Demobilization and Reintegration Program. The meetings were hosted by the World Bank and attended by about 70 participants from partner countries, donor and UN agencies, and partner NGOs.
Representatives from the 7 MDRP countries (Angola, Burundi, CAR, RoC, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda) On the first day, the "architects" of the MDRP reflected on the choices they made at the early stages of design and implementation of this unique partnership, and how these decisions affected the results achieved by the Program.
"What we were trying to do back in 2001/2002 had never been attempted before. This kind of international partnership in which many stakeholders collaborate closely to support the peace process in the Great Lakes region was quite daring", says Markus Kostner, who worked on MDRP preparation.
Launched in 2002, the MDRP aimed to support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) activities in seven countries affected by conflict in Central Africa: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. When the MDRP multi donor trust fund closes on June 30, 2009, it will have disbursed over US$260 million in grants, with co-financing from IDA amounting to $240 million and direct funding from bilateral donors of US$ 64 million. While the program did not finance disarmament, the MDRP established a partner framework that would address complementary activities such as disarmament, humanitarian efforts and community recovery.
" The regional solution is the ideal solution ", said Jean Sayinzoga, Chairman of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission. This sentiment was echoed by other government representatives who appreciated that donors pooled resources in support of their national efforts to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate combatants.
The MDRP was the largest program of its kind ever attempted in the world.
Drawing Lessons from Success and Limitations
The meetings in Washington provided an excellent opportunity for country partners to report on the final results of their DDR programs, to engage with MDRP partners (other governments, donors, including the World Bank, and UN agencies) and to draw lessons that they will be able to apply to similar programs in the future.
Despite remaining challenges - protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, continuous presence of armed groups in Uganda and CAR- the general consensus is that the MDRP initiative is a success.
"It would be easy to dwell on what didn't work well or what remains to be done " says Maria Correia, MDRP Program Manager. "But if we ask ourselves 'what would have happened if the MDRP didn't exist?', the Program's immense achievements become evident ".
The MDRP Secretariat is planning the publication of a legacy book for the end of year. The book will capture the essence of the partnership and the program, from inception to implementation to evaluations. The publication will prove useful to many audiences who want to understand what the MDRP was, what it has achieved and what lessons it can offer.
Gathering of DDR Practitioners
On the last day of the meetings, the MDRP Secretariat organized a policy forum on DDR, where MDRP partners were joined by experts and practitioners who shared their latest research on support to fragile states, early recovery, approaches to reintegration, and the design of regional programs.
"The various presentations at the forum were really stimulating" , said Grevisse Ditend, Administrator of the UEPNDDR in the DRC. " I especially appreciated Mr. Kostner's talk on the history of support to fragile states."
Transition: What next
Partner countries expressed some concern at the closure of the MDRP, hoping to continue to receive support from the program after the June 2009 closing date. All countries will continue some form of DDR (already started in DRC and Uganda) financed by their own resources, IDA, or through multi donor trust funds established at the country level.
While the MDRP will close in June 2009, a transitional program - the Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program - is being established to accompany partner countries as they complete their DDR activities and transition to broader recovery and development programming. The TDRP, to be funded with a US$21 million commitment from the African Development Bank as well as a few other contributions from bilateral donors, would operate over a 3-year period (2009 to 2012). Its objectives will be to improve the quality of DDR programs through technical support and advisory services, to facilitate new D&R programming by providing emergency response financing where needed; to fund cross-border and cross-cutting DDR activities in the region, and to provide a continued platform for coordination, dialogue, information exchange and learning on DDR in the sub-region.
For more information on MDRP, please visit www.mdrp.org or contact Chantal Rigaud Communications Officer, MDRP Secretariat, World Bank at firstname.lastname@example.org.