Help that eases
"I can finally sleep on a mattress again. I am really relieved that I don’t have to sleep on the ground anymore," said Kawambe, one of the estimated 70,000 displaced people in DR Congo’s Ituri province who have received assistance from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
In April and May of 2018, with the financial support of UNICEF, we provided essential household items to nearly 14,000 displaced and conflict-affected families in Ituri province in north-eastern DR Congo.
Some communities in the province have been host to thousands of displaced people who fled the escalating violence earlier this year. More and more people are also taking refuge in neighbouring countries. According to the UN, the violence has caused an estimated 47,000 Congolese to flee to Uganda.
During the violence, entire villages were looted and burned, displacing thousands. The new influx of displaced people has become a burden on the already scant resources of the host communities.
Involving the community
The local communities play an important role in the responses to these humanitarian situations. In this instance, we enlisted local leaders and civil society to help identify the most pressing of needs.
The agreed upon avenue for aid provision was to be open-air markets selling essential household items. We contracted local traders who supply a variety of essential household items including pots, pans, mattresses and clothes.
"I really appreciated the way NRC organised the market by actively involving local traders," says Pierre, one of the traders.
People received vouchers they could use to buy the different items they needed. Each family received a voucher worth USD 75.
"Before coming to the market, my husband and I decided to buy two pans, a bottle, a mattress and some clothes for ourselves and our children," says Kawambe.
The grant we received to finance this initiative is part of the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), a UNICEF-funded program in Ituri province in eastern DR Congo. The programme targets internally displaced people and aims to improve the living conditions of families affected by displacement through a multisector approach.
Top five most purchased items
Using the personal digital assessment (PDA), we have classified five items that were the most purchased at the fair markets:
- Clothes: 85%
- Mattress: 72%
- Pots and plates: 71%
- Blankets: 55%
- 10-20V solar panels: 35%
NRC in Ituri, DR Congo
Since 2017, NRC has been present in the Congolese province of Ituri through a consortium project funded by UNICEF and implemented by three international NGOs, including Save the Children and Solidarité International. This project has resulted in the provision of assistance to nearly 14,000 conflict displaced families in the Mahagi and Djugu territories and the town of Bunia. In this province, we have also provided school kits to more than 12,700 children, of whom 3,500 were integrated into the formal education system.