Review of NRCs Urban Assistance in Goma, DR Congo

Published 15. Mar 2015
NRC undertook a pilot programme in 2014 to respond to urban displacement in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). NRC commissioned a review of the pilot in order to generate lessons to support the further development of their programming in Goma and elsewhere.

The design of the pilot was based on a multi-sector profiling and needs assessment of urban IDPs and host families. The pilot had three objectives – contribute to improving accessibility and accountability of government actors, increase preparedness for new displacement and improve the capacity of persons affected by displacement in urban areas to their basic needs (through cash transfers).

Some of the key lessons learnt are highlighted below:

NRC had the skills and capacity to undertake the pilot intervention. Urban programming though is new to NRC, and there are not yet resources and global objectives firmly in place to guide it.

There are a wide range of challenges facing people affected by displacement in Goma, a large number of people affected by displacement and numerous possible entry points for aid agencies. NRC and other aid agencies need to be strategic about where they can bring added value in urban areas and where they draw the line, as the number of IDPs already present would vastly exceed resources available for directly assisting them.

The line between needs and vulnerabilities related to displacement and those related to poverty / poor governance are often blurred.

Programming in urban settings requires working with certain unknown variables. NRC needs to be cognisant of assumptions made and be prudent with its analysis and advocacy messaging (i.e. not overstepping conclusions on the vulnerability of IDPs v. others).

If response analysis leads to the decision to transfer resources to individuals and households, then cash transfers are more appropriate compared to in-kind aid. The markets in Goma are vibrant and easily accessible with a variety of goods and services available. Systems are in place to get money to people.

Multi-sector urban interventions do not have obvious homes in an organisational structure defined by core competencies. If an urban intervention spans sectors and incorporates activities that are not part of NRC’s core competencies, then a new management arrangement has to be found that profits from NRC’s knowledge but does not balkanize the programme amidst departments. For an intervention in a specific sector (e.g. an education intervention implemented in an urban area) this would not be an issue. NRC is in the process of re-organising management structures.

The pilot’s targeting approach could be used to identify IDPs in the event of future displacement of populations to Goma. The process must involve local authorities because aid agencies alone would be unable to identify IDPs living outside of camps, and circumventing authorities would undermine and discourage their collaboration. However the process needs checks in place to mitigate inclusion and exclusions error, by verifying household identified by authorities and ensuring that people are aware that they can register with authorities if they meet the criteria. NRC should consider verifying all households on lists established by authorities rather than eliminating ones ahead of the verification exercise. Local community groups were also usefully involved in elaborating targeting criteria.

Local government authorities and community leaders bought into the process because of close engagement by NRC and direct and indirect benefits. It would have been inappropriate to work around local government authorities, who are necessary for targeting and play a key role in issuing documentation and disseminating information.