The MDRP is by far the largest D&R program in the world in terms of number of states involved, individuals demobilized and levels of funding. It succeeded in mobilizing USD 450 million and structuring a complex partnership around the common objective of stabilizing the greater Great Lakes Region through demobilizing and reintegrating over 300,000 ex-combatants in seven countries. Key lessons from this seven year program that ran from April 2002 through June 2009 include:
(i) National ownership, a central pillar of the MDRP, is the key to successful DDR, but inclusive stakeholder commitment to and engagement with the program is essential.
(ii) Sustainability of reintegration efforts need to be a concern from day one.
(iii) Particular beneficiary groups such as child soldiers and female ex-combatants, require identifiable targeting, funding and action plans, and management held accountable for results. While child soldiers was addressed through MDRP Special Projects, targeted attention to gender came only much later in the program.
(iv) Capacity development and quality assurance will always be lacking in fragile and post-conflict settings and need to be addressed with dedicated resources and own action plans.
(v) In order for the partnership to function, roles and responsibilities should be clear with specified objectives, indicators, target values spelled out and accountability instruments agreed to.
(vi) Given the complexity, risks and challenges associated with working in fragile and conflict-affected environments, and D&R in particular, the World Bank should review its policies, procedures, instruments and staffing in terms of adequacy for operating and administering such ambitious interventions as an MDRP, and in particular has to commit senior management time to such programs.