Overview of Ngao Letu, a programme to protect at-risk populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)
Ngao Letu, translated from Swahili as ‘Our Shield’, is a programme to protect at-risk populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). The long-term outcomes are enhanced security and social cohesion, strengthened justice mechanisms to fight impunity and improved protection for women’s rights initiatives and activists.
After interviewing partners, stakeholders and potential beneficiaries and conducting an in-depth analysis of ongoing/planned projects, programmes, activities and training programmes, the conclusion is that ‘protection’ activities focus mainly on survivor support, advocacy, training, monitoring, and the protection of displaced communities in terms of humanitarian aid. As of date, no organisation provides effective and direct physical prevention and protection operations against the occurrence of SGBV. It is within this space that Genderforce as a unique type of security organisation seeks to bridge the gap between security and non-security sector actors. It is important to highlight that Genderforce is not a humanitarian organisation and therefore, can engage directly with local security actors, in coordination with the UN and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to answer demands for security activities from numerous actors and potential beneficiaries. Interactions with representatives from the Congolese Government, from Ministerial level to the Provincial Governor of North Kivu have been very positive and welcoming – promising the necessary endorsements and formal support of the programme’s activities.
In spring of 2014, Genderforce initiated discussions with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to fund a fact-finding mission to DR Congo to explore and plan for the deployment of a longer-term programme in the region for addressing the occurrences of SGBV.
The fact-finding mission had one main deliverable: a quality assured Operational Plan (OPLAN) for launching a pilot programme in DR Congo. The OPLAN is an extensive and fact-rich separate document containing extensive references and several additional annexes, with in-depth guidance on how to conduct a DR Congo pilot programme running for a minimum of three years.
The overarching goal for the programme is to improve protection mechanisms for at-risk populations in the fight against SGBV in DR Congo. This goal should lead to the following long-term outcomes:
- Enhanced security in and around settlements of DPREs in DR Congo;
- Strengthened justice mechanisms to fight impunity in DR Congo; and
- Improved protection for groups and individuals that fight for women’s human rights and their full and equal participation.
Addressing the question of ‘who’ to protect was examined in detail during the fact-finding mission and is reflected in the OPLAN. A number of candidates had requested access to the proposed security assistance activities due to their current vulnerable situations, however this was deemed outside of the scope of the initial fact-finding mission.
Under the Ngao Letu programme, a number of defined ‘lines of operations’ will be instituted as individual projects. As part of the program, the following additional deliverables will also be produced:
- Best practices and lessons learned from operating in DR Congo with practical measures regarding the protection and prevention against SGBV that can be packaged and distributed to other actors as either intellectual capital or via educational packages;
- A generic ‘tried-and-tested’ model on how to work with prevention and protection against SGBV packaged and ready for rollout in other countries;
- A quality assured plan and budget to launch in two additional specified countries; and
- A proposal for an up-scaled organisational structure to achieve global operational reach and excellence.
For additional information about the Ngao Letu Programme, please download a Summary of the Ngao Letu Programme.