New FBA engagement in DR Congo

The FBA has been commissioned by the government to contribute to one of Sweden's aid strategies, something that has previously been primarily the task of Sida, the Swedish international development agency. We are seeing a partially new aid map, says FBA director-general Sven-Eric Söder when the FBA initiates a new engagement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Swedish government's strategies for development assistance, which previously have been called both country strategies and result strategies, are guidelines intended for the government offices, embassies and Sida, and describes how Swedish aid should be implemented in specific countries, regions or thematic areas. For the first time, the FBA is given direct assignments, in the new strategy for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

– We welcome this development. Sweden has two development agencies, the FBA and Sida, and we look forward to contributing and complementing within the framework of the government's development strategies, says Sven-Eric Söder, director-general at the FBA.

FBA's activities in the DRC aim to increase human security and contribute to freedom from violence. The work will focus mainly on security sector reform, disarmament issues and women's and girls' safety, with focus on reduced sexual violence and increased participation in peace processes.

– We have previously seconded personnel to the DRC, including a conflict and mediation expert to the UN mission Monusco. We also have established contacts with a number of Congolese partner organizations that receive funding from the FBA for work linked to the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. We now look forward to a commitment at a broader level, says Sven-Eric Söder.

The DRC is one of the countries in the world with the worst living conditions. At least if one is to believe the UNDP's Human Development Index, which compares the prosperity of the countries in the world, where the DRC together with Niger can be found at the bottom. The DRC is a conflict country, but at the same time a post-conflict country. Reconstruction work is ongoing while parts of the country still in conflict. Since the independence in 1960, the DRC has gone through several wars and conflicts. The Second Congo War, 1998-2003, was one of the bloodiest wars since World War II and is sometimes referred to as “Africa's first world war”.

Support to peace and reconciliation, democratic governance and respect for human rights are pillars of the overall Swedish engagement in the DRC. Swedish development assistance in the DRC must meet the five peace-building and state-building goals of the New Deal, which was established in Busan in 2011, and aim to complement other actors. A gender perspective should be integrated in all activities.

– The Democratic Republic of the Congo a conflict-torn country and an extremely complex environment to engage in as an aid agency. Working with conflict sensitivity and respect for the complex context is fundamental. To connect the local and regional perspective is also important, since many conflicts are rooted in local tensions, for example land issues or tensions between different ethnic groups, says Lisa Ljungström, project manager at the FBA.

A government decision was taken on June 17 2015 for the DRC strategy, which covers the period 2015-2019. The close cooperation between the FBA and Sida is essential when the operationalization phase now begins, where the agencies jointly develop programme plans for the implementation of the strategy.

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Johanna Malm

Johanna is expert on the Democratic Republic of Congo

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