Following calls to action from advocates from many corners, USAID has just announced a $20 million livelihoods project in eastern Congo. It is a request for proposals for a four-year program in the Kivus and Orientale provinces, focused on people affected by sexual violence and the conflict minerals trade. The project aims to reach at least 80,000 people. Because grassroots communities bear the brunt of the violence in eastern Congo, Enough has called repeatedly for such a project, and we applaud USAID for this initiative.
As eastern Congo’s mining communities transition from the conflict minerals trade to legitimate business, people will need targeted assistance to help them find meaningful sources of livelihood and cope with the ongoing challenges of living in an area long plagued by conflict. We hope that part of this project can target these vulnerable communities in particular. This program must also be carried out in a transparent and grassroots-oriented manner, so that grassroots communities indeed receive direct, tangible benefits from the projects funded by USAID.
As the request explains:
Community Recovery and Livelihoods Project (CRLP) is to promote stable socio-economic recovery in targeted communities in eastern DRC, especially in areas where SGBV [sexual and gender-based violence] and gender inequalities are considered as major challenges to stability and reconciliation. […] [T]he Applicant must address relevant factors such as the communities’ experience with conflict and particularly Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), as well as their proximity to illicit mining activities.
The funding is being allocated to focus on three areas:
- Livelihoods work through support to agriculture, market access, alternative livelihoods, and gender role dialogues.
- Civil society support through aid to civil society in capacity building, advocacy support, and women’s participation.
- Community conflict resolution through infrastructure construction, women’s participation, and community conflict management structure support.
The detailed request for applications aptly acknowledges:
[I]n order to consolidate recovery gains, both the more productive and entrepreneurial as well as the more marginalized and vulnerable members of society must be included. USAID therefore intends for the project to work along this spectrum, ensuring the inclusion of victims of violence, particularly women and girls.
It’s an encouraging development alongside efforts to reform the trade in minerals so that the revenue will benefit local communities. The request is posted on grants.gov, and applications are due on September 15.
Photo: Young men make soap in Walikale, near the entrance to Bisie mine. The soap is sold in stores throughout the surrounding area (Enough/Laura Heaton)