Evaluation of the DECLIK project
- 14 December 2015
The DECLIK project supporting human rights initiatives in the two Kivu provinces in eastern DRC started in November 2012 and finished in October 2015. The project was a shared one, involving a partnership with five Congolese NGO’s – Arche d’Alliance, ASADHO Beni, PAIF, SOPROP, and UCPDHO – financed by the EU, the NED foundation, and the French Embassy in DRC.
Eastern DRC has suffered chronic instability for at least twenty years. The principal victims, as always, are the civilian population who live in a state of total breakdown of the law and absence of protection by the authorities. Assassination, rape, arbitrary arrest and detention and extortion are the daily fare for these people carried out with almost total impunity. These abuses are carried out by both the military and the civil authorities, militias and the police. In such a context the human rights defenders play an essential role despite the threats that they incur, by denouncing human rights abuses, providing assistance to victims and by fighting impunity.
Given the need to support the work of these human rights groups, the DECLIK project had a number of aims:
- Improve the effectiveness of the HRDs
- Identify and train new HRDs
- Encourage networking between civil society organisations
- Support legal advocacy in the courts
- Provide assistance to the victims
- Protect HRDs that are threatened
Amongst the activities that the project undertook were training in financial management, understanding the techniques for improved advocacy and for the protection of the HRDs. Having carried out these activities with the five partners, they themselves transferred their newly acquired knowledge to the smaller local NGOs that they are linked with. These smaller organisations were also able to list the abuses carried out in their respective localities and to warn the others about serious violations.
Ten exchange visits were arranged between the five partners listed above. The project also issued a report on prison conditions in the North and South Kivu provinces and this report was presented during an advocacy mission by two of the partners’ members during a mission to Europe. Eleven smaller dynamic NGOs received financial support for their own activities via regranting exercises. Finally, ninety two individuals who had been victims of abuse were supported in pursuit of their legal defence.
In October 2015 the five partners met at Goma for a round up session and the conclusion was positive. In spite of the difficult political, military and security context and the many threats to which the HRDs are subjected, most of the aims of the project were achieved. This first impression has been reaffirmed in the external evaluation carried out by an independent consultant who has praised the partnership approach of AEDH.
DECLIK’s results are both concrete and encouraging. The HRDs involved are now more aware of the risks they incur and of how to deal with them through adequate protection. There are more people involved in the defence of human rights and in the setting up of watchdog and warning systems The networking approach has suggested new ways of co-operating between local organisations.
Nevertheless the success of the project pales into relative insignificance given the scale of the human rights abuses in the two Kivus and given the deteriorating political context in DRC. With the approach of important elections at the provincial, legislative and Presidential levels, human rights defenders risk once again being stigmatised and repressed by the authorities.