By Ndiaga Seck
BUNYAKIRI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 7 October 2011 - In the small village of Bitale in eastern DR Congo, over 500 children studying at the Mikonzi Primary School are receiving a quality education thanks to UNICEF’s Programme of Expanded Assistance to Return Plus (PEAR+), which facilitated the construction of the building.
|UNICEF's Programme of Expanded Assistance to Return Plus is making a positive impact in DR Congo, through the restoration of basic social services and economic reconstruction. Watch in RealPlayer|
School principal, Barthelemy Mutakato, expressed his enthusiasm for the programme and underscored the positive impact the new environment is having on his students. “Now, children study in better conditions because our classrooms are well built and well-equipped,” he said. “And more and more children register here because the school is well built.”
Implemented in the Bunyakiri region by the Italian NGO AVSI, the programme has been a major contributor to the fourth component of International Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy that supports the governmental Stabilisation and Reconstruction Plan for eastern DR Congo (STAREC). It facilitates return, reintegration, and recovery by ensuring the voluntary and safe return of refugees and IDPs, as well as sustainable socio-economic reintegration in their areas of origin.
Last September, the Governor of South Kivu Marcellin Cishambo Rohuya called attention to the Government stabilization programme, by cutting the ribbon at the inauguration of a new police station, a penitentiary and other infrastructures constructed in the Bunyakiri area. United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Fidele Sarassoro also attended the event.
Impact on health
The Bunyakiri health centre was an additional beneficiary of the new programme, receiving a new maternity ward built with UNICEF funds.
“Now our hospital has 27 beds and it is a relief to us as our former maternity became too small,” declared Dr. Kyenemo Djunga, Head Doctor of Bunyakiri health centre.
|© UNICEF DRC/2011|
|Mr. Barthelemy Mutakato, principal of Mukonzi Primary School, posing with students and teachers next to the new building.|
UNICEF also provides the hospital with medical supplies such as post-exposure prophylactics (PEP) for the treatment of sexual violence survivors within 72 hours.
Speaking to the issue of gender-based violence, Ms. Pierrette Vu Thi, UNICEF Representative in DR Congo, spotlighted the initiative’s positive impact. “UNICEF has the lead role of the Multi-Sector Assistance pillar to respond to gender-based violence in the framework of the STAREC,” she said. “We provide psychosocial care to SGBV survivors, as well as medicines for their treatment.”
In order to increase synergy and better support the eastern DR Congo stabilisation programme, UNICEF, UNDP and FAO have developed three joint projects benefiting over 500,000 people in 125 localities in Ituri district, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. Each project fosters local reconciliation, conflict prevention and the revitalisation of communities through the restoration of basic social services and economic reconstruction.
“All our achievements such as the construction of a police station, an administrative building and a prison in this area are a good example of the common objective of our stabilization strategy,” explained Robert Van Embden, ambassador of the Netherlands in DR Congo. “Besides, there’s no doubt that the implementation of a programme such as PEAR and the joint project developed by UNDP, FAO and UNICEF also contribute to it.”
PEAR + provides training to parent-teacher committees, directors and teachers and distributes education kits and didactic material. It also supports communities through initiatives restoring sustainable access to safe water and healthy environment through the “healthy village” campaign.