Assignment for Oxfam Novib
To provide assistance where needed, Oxfam closely works together with local partner organizations. These organizations know the local culture and context like none other and have access to remote areas. They are there to stay. Many of these organisations implement programs addressing poverty via microfinance support and agricultural professionalization support. Programs that improve both the standard of living and economic self-sufficiency, as well as offering a pathway to education, health care and equality between men and women. But in the face of recurrent crises they also reach out to communities to deliver humanitarian assistance.
Some organisations have long-term experience with humanitarian response programs. But others struggle to put their resources to the best possible use. Oxfam has trained these organizations to get acquainted with humanitarian principles and practice, and to professionalize their activities and organisational structure to be transparent, accountable, gender proof and efficient for a more effective humanitarian response.
Honore Bavukahe from FEMISA (Femme en Mission pour Soutien et Action aux Vulnerable Confondu) explains that because of Oxfam’s training, mentoring and collaboration his organisation is now capable to respond to a crisis more effectively. “Before the training we responded without having an actual plan. We simply did what we thought was necessary which was sometimes based on rumours. But when we would evaluate the project at the end, we often learned that we did not meet the actual needs of the people. Our projects lacked impact. The training we received taught us the importance of conducting needs assessments before the intervention by asking people what they needed using focus group discussions. We learned how to analyse these needs, identify the target group, develop a crisis response plan and how to monitor and evaluate the project.”
Carlos Muyayalo from CEDERU (Centre Development Rural) emphasises that through the training and collaboration with Oxfam they got acquainted with the international humanitarian coordination system and the importance of engaging and collaborating at different levels with other humanitarian actors. “We did not know for example there were regular meetings between NGOs and MONUSCO where information is exchanged and interventions are discussed. But now we are present at these meetings and we coordinate our activities with them. It makes a big difference in our response.”
Oxfam furthermore helps the organizations to strengthen their administrative and financial management and governance. The quality of humanitarian response largely depends on such organizational and logistical capabilities. John Ruchahanira from ADEPAE (Action pour le Développement et la Paix endogènes) explains that there were many issues his organisation was unaware of. “We had no idea that the board should supervise our activities, about the procedures we need to follow, the taxes we are supposed to pay and the licenses we need to legally do our work. It meant that there was a lot of room for fraud and mismanagement. I am not saying this happened, but we were ignorant and lacked transparency and accountability. If we needed to buy rice for our beneficiaries for example, we just bought it without comparing prices. We thought providing an invoice would be enough justification. Now we understand this is not the right procedure to follow and that an external auditor can see this as fraud. We need to compare prices, explain our choice and get permission from the board. And all of this needs to be documented.”
Building the capacities of the local organisations, Oxfam includes transversal themes such as HIV/AIDS, gender equality and environmental protection. These crosscutting issues are central to both development and humanitarian programs and are very relevant in the context of DRC. Experience in these areas also benefits fundraising of the local partners “We see that these transversal themes are also important for our fundraising activities. Often there is an obligation from the donor that our activities should target men and women equally for example,” explains John Ruchahanira.