Photo: Ingrid Samset

This is an evaluation of a project that the United Nations Development Programme, in conjunction with the UN Office for Project Services, started in 2003 in support of peacebuilding and community development activities in Ituri, a district in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Given the armed conflict that had raged in the district since 1999, the project aimed at fostering inter-community reconciliation, improving access to and the quality of basic infrastructures and social services, revitalising community development and reinforcing the capacity of community-based organisations, and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. The project was co-financed by the Government of Norway and the UNDP, and was set to end in 2006. The evaluation focuses on how the project was managed (planning, organisation, implementation); coordination between the project and other relevant initiatives and actors; and the project's results, impact, and degree of goal attainment. The evaluation was co-conducted with a UNDP-recruited consultant and included one month of fieldwork in the DRC.

The key idea of the project was that community development can function as a means to reduce  violence and build peace. To realise this idea in the war-torn Ituri district, UNDP adopted the direct  execution modality by which it supported local initiatives that were small in terms of budgets,  geographical coverage, and duration. The selection and monitoring of projects and partners were  done by the staff of the UNDP office set up for the project in Bunia. The 85 projects supported by  April 2006 had a budget of on average USD 19,270 each; and more than 90 percent of them were  carried out by local NGOs. The projects were to contribute to one or several of the overall project’s  four objectives: to promote inter-community reconciliation, to improve access to and the quality of  basic infrastructure and social services, to revitalise community development mechanisms and  reinforce community-based organisations, and to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

The principal tasks of the evaluation were to assess:

  • The results of the project and the progress made towards its overall objectives, taking into account the political situation and the security conditions that have prevailed in Ituri;
  • The nature and quality of the coordination between the project and other relevant activities undertaken by the Government of the DRC, UNDP, and other international actors;
  • The quality of the planning, organisation, and implementation of the project; and
  • To the extent possible, the impact of the project on the ground and how it has been perceived by target groups and communities.

 

METHODOLOGY

The study of the Ituri project as a whole and the selected 24 smaller projects were based on three

complementary sources of information:

  • A review of relevant documents;
  • Visits to micro-project sites;
  • Meetings with managers, implementing partners, and beneficiaries of the Ituri project.


FINDINGS

The evaluation concludes that the project has contributed to the launching of the processes of reconciliation and community development in Ituri, and that its impact has been positive at the community level. The project  has been a unique initiative in Ituri in its development focus and its support of projects initiated and run by Iturians themselves.

Anecdotal evidence suggests though that with an extension of the method used in this project to  more initiatives and areas of the district, the forces seeking to perpetuate conflict will face  difficulties in finding recruits and violence will consequently be reduced.