Resilience takes root in eastern Chad

16 Sep 2013

imageIn eastern Chad, Helen Clark was greeted by large numbers of local residents, including refugees and displaced people. (Photo: UNDP in Chad)

Visiting Chad from 14 to 17 September, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, traveled to the Sahel region of Dar Sila, located in the east of the country, to witness the implementation of a new program of resilience.

UNDP and its partners, civil society and the Chadian government are working together there to reduce the vulnerability of communities in all of its dimensions in the village of Goz Beida.

The area is extremely fragile due to its exposure to natural disasters, land degradation and loss of productivity, compounded by climate change and large flows of displaced populations that have added pressure to the local environment and its ability to provide services.

Taking advantage of a period of relative peace and stability in Dar Sila, the new approach aims to heal wounds by bringing people together into the same development programme.

"The dividend of greater stability has to come in the form of meeting the aspirations of the people for education for their children, proper health care and an opportunity to have a proper livelihood," said Helen Clark in an interview with Radio Sila, a local station that advocates daily for peace and harmony.

The program is directly helping to stabilize communities, but also working with local authorities to help people build a better future by generating new sources of revenue and getting access to basic services.

In its conflict prevention component, the programme has mobilized local radios, caravans of peace and religious and traditional authorities that have sensitized 65,000 people on issues relating to human rights, violence against women and community conflicts.

About 150 mediators, including many women, have helped solve 42 inter-community conflicts using traditional techniques, sometimes covering up to 70 miles on donkeys to promote dialogue and prevent violence in all the surrounding villages.

Mobile legal clinics have also helped to promote access to justice by teaching 130,000 people about principles relating to land tenure, marital and community law.

Thanks to this relative stability, the programme will encourage local communities to develop, and grow nutritious food, while allowing them to generate new sources of income from it.

The initiative will give them access to energy through the installation of generators that are able to complete the most difficult tasks, such as husking grain. One thousand women are being trained in marketing local products and have already contributed a total of US $8000 to run their associations.

In parallel, the program has developed solar panels that will light up homes at night.

"This program is wonderful for our women. We re-started our lives from scratch. We have gained a lot of confidence," said local school inspector Marioma Mahamat, who is highly involved in the project.

The programme also supports the resilience of local and national institutions, increasing their capacity to provide health, education and rule of law services and expand social protection and economic opportunities.

The municipality of Goz Beida itself now has 21 elected officials, including two women, and its budget increased tenfold in two years, from US $16,000 to $160,000.