International Alert, together with partners Antenna Foundation, Equal Access, Forum for Women, Law and Development, the Institute of Human Rights Communication Nepal and Saferworld, recently held a series of trainings in Security Sector Reform (SSR) for civil society and media representatives in Nepal.
International Alert’s programme in the Philippines is based both in Manila and Davao City, Mindanao. Locally led, in both locations we seek to work with our partners to advocate for peace-positive progress to be made by the new NoyNoy Aquino administration in Manila and with a wide range of other parties on the island of Mindanao, where there have been decades of conflicts involving the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and the Communist Party of the Philippines/National Democratic Front.
The discharge and rehabilitation process of former Maoist Army combatants began in early 2010 with the discharge of 4,008 verified minors and late recruits (VMLRs). A UN Interagency Rehabilitation Programme was established to provide support to these individuals in the form of counselling, training and supporting job placements. To date, notable progress has been made by this programme, in particular in the numbers of VMLRs making contact with the programme through the toll-free phone line and those referred on to training providers. However, a major shortcoming of the programme to date has been its ability to provide socio-economic support to clients in the post-training period.
One key actor that was overlooked in the design of the programme was the business community. Contact between the rehabilitation programme and business community at both the national and local levels has been limited and ad-hoc in nature, a major obstacle to the success of the programme in ensuring job placements, micro-finance and mentoring support to its clients.
International Alert is working to strengthen the socio-economic support dimensions of the rehabilitation programme through:
The government of Nepal has identified poverty and social exclusion as root causes of escalating political conflict in the country and has prioritised poverty reduction for its tenth plan. Donors, the UN and NGOs alike share a similarly broad recognition of economic inequity and social exclusion as drivers/contributors to conflict and violence, although the particular explanations for this link vary.
In response to this recognition, both the international community and the government of Nepal have invested heavily under the assumption that an emphasis on inclusive income generation or employment will contribute to peace and stability. Numerous initiatives have emerged over the years during and following conflict that seek to enhance group and individual income-generation capacity through micro-finance, self-employment and jobs-for-peace type schemes.
Beginning in May 2009, International Alert and Samjhauta Nepal began exploring the links between income generation and peacebuilding in Nepal, in particular looking at ways in which links identified could be strengthened. The project worked through new and existing income generation groups in the Morang and Kailali districts, with Alert and Samjhauta working together to provide start-up capital for new enterprises, specialised conflict sensitivity training to local facilitators, and to explore opportunities for connecting groups to district-level networks and to strengthen both economic empowerment and access to peacebuilding networks.