Community Violence reduction with Weapon and Ammunition Management Components
UN Department of Peace Operations (DDR Section)
In a country emerging from a conflict, a critical pre-condition for development is the absence of fear related to the threat of armed groups and weapons they carry. But weapons are more ubiquitous as they are acquired also by the civilian populations. Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programmes, centralized and resource heavy are long and it takes time for the population at the local level to feel any impact. Community Violence Reduction (CVR) complements DDR in many ways but what is most innovative is that it addresses a larger group of beneficiaries, including ex-combatants, youth at risk of recruitment and communities at large. It is implemented locally and this is where decisions are made with participation of community members. In CAR, weapon collection from all beneficiaries is a required step to enter the programme.
Community Violence Reduction with a WAM component in CAR is implemented under the National CVR Strategy and in accordance with national ownership by the DDR Section of Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). It is implemented in partnership with other entities such as UNOPS or IOM. It is funded to a large extent from the peacekeeping budget which became a seed funding for voluntary contributions to expand the project (including PBF, World Bank or European Union Funding). While CVR in support of DDR has been implemented in other missions before, the programme in CAR is the first one to try and address the issue of weapon possession in the hands of its beneficiaries usu=ing the relative advantage of a peacekeeping operation to be able to store, manage and destroy weapons and ammunitions. It has been launched in 2015 (initially under the moniker of pre-DDR) to achieve two main objective of: (a) providing a temporary stage for future participants of DDR which was slow to take of the ground; and (b) to secure the electoral process of 2015-16 by keeping potential spoilers (whether armed group members or youth at risk of recruitment) temporarily occupied. As the peacekeeping budget is annual (July-June), CVR is implemented in phases aligned with the financial year. The overall planning framework is the National CVR Strategy, from which priority locations (violence hot spots) are derived and the implementation of the programme is divided in projects around those locations. Annual budget for CVR + WAM is compounded with DDR activities and ranges depending on the progress of the latter from USD 4 M to USD 6 M (MINUSCA contribution only).
The programme is annual. The Phase Three implemented under the financial year 2019-2020 (July 19 – June 20) supported 4,014 beneficiaries, including 1,570 female and 2,444 male, led to the collection of 41 combat weapons, 1,640 artisanal weapons, 913 pieces of ammunition and 3 unexploded ordnances). It is way more difficult to calculate the contribution of the CVR + WAM programme to the safety of the population but the public satisfaction surveys consistently indicate the positive influence of the programme on the security in the communities. By design, however, CVR only complements other peacebuilding initiatives in a given location such as extension of state authority, deployment of public services, including security services, and DDR.
Key enabling factors are MINUSCA posture in areas of limited access for external actors; participation of local, including traditional, authorities, mutual benefits for all parts of often divided community that facilitate collaboration (in one case, a construction project featured a mosque build in the community by Christian beneficiaries and a church built in the same community by the Muslim ones). Participation of women is an enabling factor as it recognizes their role in the community as peace actors. The implementation requires minimum security and a sudden outbreak of the conflict may halt activities. It is implemented in areas where access, logistics and supplies are limited which leads to delays.
Peace benefits of CVR + WAM are not designed as sustainable but rather as creating a path for other projects that would ensure its sustainability (such as DDR, broader livelihood projects) to intervene. However, projects build capacity and grants / materiel to implement these capacities under the local conditions are a part of graduation. Projects are replicable and methodology is being shared with local actors for the implementation beyond the mission life cycle. Several other actors beyond the mission (e.g. IOM) have now started to implement CVR.
CVR+WAM programme has adopted to COVID-19 using its infrastructure to support the following in 2020: (a) sensitization of local communities on risks of the pandemics and methods of prevention/protection; (b) distributing through the project networks sanitation materials transported from outside local communities; (c) infrastructure projects improving access to hygiene (e.g. water access) or medical care (hospital wards, isolation areas); and (d) local production of PPE and sanitation materials (soaps etc.) This resulted in CVR continuing throughout the period of pandemics.
SDGS & Targets
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Deliverables & Timeline
Main groups of beneficiaries are ex-combatants, including members of the community who are civilians but who occasionally mobilize with armed groups, youth at ris of recruitment, civilian members of the community designated by community-based local communities to participate in the programme. This is done based on minimum quota of participation of youth and female. Attention is being given to female-specific projects. The key partnership is between MINUSCA and national and local actors (the latter constitute local committies who are a decision-making body in all aspect of programme delivery).
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