Humanitarian organizations have conventionally used direct distribution methodologies to provide households with commodities to help them survive and recover from crises. Non-food items (NFI) such as plastic sheeting, soap, cooking pots, and water jugs are usually distributed in a pre-packaged kit, the content having been decided by practitioners and donors, based on what they deem most critical for household welfare. Cash and voucher interventions present a more flexible alternative to direct distributions, because households themselves can choose items that maximize their welfare. In order evaluate the appropriateness of its NFI activities and illuminate the advantages and potential pitfalls of using cash and voucher interventions to meet the non-food needs of households recovering from the effects of war and displacement, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) carried out a pilot ‘cash for household non-food needs’ program in Maniema Province, Democratic Republic of Congo, in April 2006.
The objectives were to understand the non-food needs of households selected to receive NFI kits, assess the extent to which the UNICEF kit was meeting these needs, and gain insight into the intra-household decision-making dynamics of participating households.
In its 2000 World Refugee Survey, the U.S. Committee for Refugees estimates that as of December 31, 1999, there were over 14 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide and at least 21 million internally displaced people. (1) The vast majority – as high as 75 percent – are women and young children. (2, 3, 4) In addition to experiencing the same hardships and security concerns as adult male refugees, women and children have special protection needs because of their gender and age. In particular, they need protection from sexual violence and exploitation, as well as physical violence and discrimination. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) Sexual violence can encompass anything ranging from rape and other sexual physical assaults or attempts to offers of food, protection, documents or other assistance in exchange for sexual favors. (2, 3, 4, 6, 8) This article focuses on protecting women and children in refugee camps from all forms of sexual violence committed by male offenders. Here, the term “refugee” includes refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and returnees. Similarly, a “refugee camp” refers to a temporary living arrangement where refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and returnees may reside, but does not include detention facilities. By focusing on women and children, the authors do not suggest that men are not targets of sexual violence or that women cannot be offenders. (4, 8, 9) However, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) 1995 guidelines, Sexual Violence against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response (Guidelines on Sexual Violence), the majority of reported cases of sexual violence involve female targets and male perpetrators. (6) Likewise, by limiting the environment of concern to refugee camps, we do not imply that sexual violence against refugees does not take place elsewhere. It is widely accepted, for example, that sexual violence occurs during flight from and return to the country of origin, as well as in the country of asylum. (2, 5, 6) Refugee camps, however, offer an environment where some practical and commonsense measures based on injury-control models can be implemented fairly easily to reduce the risk of sexual violence for these vulnerable groups. Accordingly, although the assessment and planning tool introduced here is in pilot form and does not address all aspects of sexual or physical violence, exploitation, and discrimination among refugees, it is one step in what must be a coordinated effort to resolve this multi-faceted international problem.
By canonizing traditional and cultural restrictions on women and girls into official policy and law, the Taliban leadership of Afghanistan has created the most notorious example in the world of state denial of basic rights of women and girls. It is little consolation that these regulations are enforced unevenly at different times and in different parts of Afghanistan. The dilemma faced by concerned individuals and agencies is in finding a strategy that will result in real and lasting improvements in the lives of Afghan women. Righteous indignation and distant protests are inadequate.
Women are key players in development and a decade of CIET experience in 42 countries has produced several lessons worth sharing and many mistakes worth avoiding as we work to build the community voice in planning. CIET is a South non-governmental organisation consisting of an international cadre of professionals from a variety of disciplines who bring scientific research methods to the community level. CIET had developed a method of sentinel community surveillance (SCS) which involves communities in information gathering and analysis. The method facilitates the gathering of both quantitative and qualitative data, its analysis in term of impact, coverage and costs, and community-led solutions that are sustainable and locally relevant. The CIET method of facilitating community access to appropriate measurement technology, builds national and local evaluation capabilities in reiterative cycles.
This article distills the experience with gender issues using the SCS approach. The five identifiable methodological steps may be of relevance to other methods: the first is the analysis of existing data in terms of gender; second is the stratification of responses, analysing differences by sex of respondent; third is the processing of key findings by female focus groups, to obtain their interpretation of the data even when respondents are men; fourth, the epidemiological backbone of SCS permits analysis of gender-related risk and resilience; and, fifth, logistics of fieldwork are configured to maximise participation. With support from the World Bank, UNICEF and the IDRC, the methods have been adapted for use in public sector reform, national campaigns against corruption, and improving the effectiveness and transparency of the police, judiciary, environmental programmes and urban transport.
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