Transitional Demobilization and Reintegration Program
Enhancing the reintegration of ex-combatants:
How can the TDRP help?
March 12, 2010
Reintegration activities in Burundi include agricultural work. Here, two women tend to their yam field. Ex-combatats and their dependents work together, often with the support of community associations
Reintegration activities in Burundi include support for
agricultural initiatives. These two ex-combatant women
tending their yam field are part of an agricultural cooperative
that involves both ex-combatants and other women from
the community. They were also hoping to soon rent other fields to grow rice.

The R in DDR, reintegration, is the hardest part of post-conflict work. Unlike disarmament and demobilization, which are finite and have fairly clear indicators of success, reintegration is a long-term process where linking inputs to outcomes is tricky. Nevertheless, reintegration is a crucial component of DDR and if not successfully achieved, the DD components of the DDR can conceivably be reversed.  This is why the TDRP is proposing to establish a facility that would provide support to implementing partners for reintegration activities.

The proposal comes as a response to recommendations made over the life of the MDRP, which identified reintegration as the weakest link of DDR. 

Maria Correia, TDRP Program Manager, answers a few questions about the proposed facility.

Why a facility to support reintegration in the Great Lakes?
Maria: Our thinking is based on reflection on seven years of supporting demobilization and reintegration programs through the MDRP, the predecessor to the TDRP.  Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of these programs is often a challenge. This is understandable as they are almost always done in emergency mode and often in post-conflict fragile settings. However, the TDRP gives us an opportunity to take a step back and examine how programs worked and what lessons can be drawn for future activities.

Defining reintegration

The Integrated DDR Standards, issued by the United Nations, define reintegration as “the process by which ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain sustainable employment and income. Reintegration is essentially a social and economic process with an open time-frame, primarily taking place in communities at the local level. It is part of the general development of a country and a national responsibility, and often necessitates long-term external assistance”

(Secretary-General, note to the General Assembly, A/C.5/59/31, May 2005).

What would be the objective of the facility?
Maria: Our proposal is to establish a sort of resource center for countries in the Great Lakes, where they would be able to access not only literature on what’s already been done but also find experts and peers to help them with their own evaluations.  We want to expand the knowledge base and really understand how and why some reintegration activities worked and why others did not. In the end, the lessons from all these assessments would become a great resource for all DDR practitioners.

Hasn’t this type of work already been done?
Maria:  Some countries in the region have already done impressive M&E work and intend to do more –but some of this quality work was made possible because of technical assistance received. There are also other development partners doing important work in this area.  In the DRC for example, we know that UNICEF is planning an evaluation of its work with children associated with armed forces. In these cases, we want to find ways to support these processes.  There is no need to duplicate work and waste human and financial resources. Where appropriate, the TDRP can contribute meaningfully to the debate and analysis. But there is no single facility dedicated to helping with M&E in DDR projects. So the TDRP will help to fill this gap.

How and when will the facility be set up?
Maria:  Our first step will be scoping exercise in the sub-region in April and May. A mission will visit all countries covered by the TDRP where DDR programs are ongoing and discuss with authorities and implementing agencies their M&E needs.  Based on this, we plan to organize a roundtable in the region in the early summer where the various country counterparts will gather to review the findings of the mission, discuss them, and launch the facility.

Maria Correia, TDRP Program Manager

Maria Correia, TDRP Program Manager

What type of support with the facility provide?
Maria: Most likely, the bulk of our support will be technical assistance. This could mean for example helping providing direct technical support to country counterparts to establish systems and carry out studies, building capacity in-country, linking research organizations and country counterparts, etc. The TDRP will also help to identify creative approaches to reintegration activities and support pilot projects to apply them – and with M&E processes attached. These projects would serve as “incubators” that, if proven successful, could be used in larger operations.

Words like “enhancing” or “improving” reintegration are sometimes used to describe TDRP proposed activities.  Wouldn’t they imply that what is being done now is of poor quality?
Maria:  No, that is not the case. There are plenty of very good programs that have produced results. The environment in the Great Lakes region remains complex and difficult, however, and resources can be hard to come by. So what the TDRP proposes is to provide additional resources to carry out M&E work which otherwise would not be done, or would not be done as well. There is always a lot to learn from ongoing programs, and this is what the TDRP wants to do: help DDR practitioners learn from each other, share experiences and improve the collective knowledge and practice on DDR.

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