Programs in Northern Caucasus
The Market led Agricultural Economic Recovery project, supported by USAID, began working in the republics of Chechnya and Dagestan, in September 2007. It focuses on supporting economic recovery in agricultural communities. The project helps small farmers and agricultural producer associations become the drivers of their own economic recovery, through partnering with private sector businesses to reach new markets. Through this project, the International Rescue Committee is partnering with a wide variety of business, civil society and government stakeholders. Using research conducted through the project and with its partners, the IRC has identified the districts of Khasavyurtovsky in Dagestan and Shelkovskoy in Chechnya as prime locations in which to target its efforts.
The IRC and its partners are now preparing to mobilize farmers and others in the agricultural community in target districts to develop plans to revitalize local agriculture-based economies. The IRC is also establishing groups in each district to participate in project planning and promote collaboration. The IRC is also helping agribusinesses, producer associations and individual farmers to produce and implement business plans. In addition, the project will work with the wider community through livelihood grants which also supports agricultural recovery activities.
LEARNING & LIVELIHOODS
Vperyod (Go for It!) is a program designed to provide vocational training, support for small business start ups and increased economic opportunities for vulnerable and marginalized people in the North Caucasus. It is supported by USAID and implemented by the IRC and its partners, World Vision, Modern Humanitarian Academy and Patriot. Vperyod has provided vocational training to 400 young adults in areas such as construction, office equipment repair and catering. Over 50 percent of vocational training graduates have found jobs or gone on to further training. More than 300 people have taken part in business training. And the program gave out76 mini-grants, for business start-up and expansion. Businesses supported include grocery shops, cafes, taxi services and hairdressing salons.
With the support of the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), the IRC has been supporting those returning to their homes in South Chechnya through training and grants to re-establish their livelihoods. The IRC is working with 174 people, many living in poverty, to ensure that they can meet their basic subsistence needs and escape dependence on food aid.
The IRC has developed a curriculum which combines practical survival skills and basic small business skills. The IRC is supporting livelihood support activities in areas including cattle breeding, tailoring, catering and greenhouse agriculture.
With the support of the Dutch aid organization Stichting Vluchteling (SV), the IRC South Chechnya Rural Economic Recovery Program is helping 10 villages to identify their needs and plan their economic recovery. The IRC has facilitated community meetings and supported participatory assessments of economic recovery needs. These have been developed into community economic recovery reports for each community. The reports are shared with a wide variety of stakeholders including international agencies active in the economic recovery in the region. The project is also offering vocational training to 46 young people in these communities to increase their employment opportunities.
The IRC’s Infrastructure Program works to ensure that returnees to Chechnya have shelter and water. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM). The IRC conducts water deliveries in Grozny and works with the Grozny water board—Grozvodokanal—to help them provide long term services. The IRC also works with the District Communal Housing Service to provide garbage collection. To date, the IRC has helped to repair 5,000 meters of water network, which delivers water to approximately 6,000 people.
The IRC is also helping returnees to repair their damaged homes. Since 2001, the IRC has helped rehabilitate 2,000 homes in Grozny and in rural areas in the south of Chechnya. The IRC works with families to identify what materials need and provides them, along with technical support from IRC engineers.
The IRC also helps communities carry out assessments of needs and priorities. Communities select apriority, and with the support of the IRC, design and manage a project. To date the IRC has supported roads and connection to electricity and water networks. An estimated 19,000 people have benefited from these projects since 2007.
CIVIC RECOVERY & CIVIL SOCIETY
The IRC’s Civic Recovery Program, which ended in September 2007 worked to improve the quality of life of war-affected communities by forging partnerships between communities, civil society organizations, local government, and public institutions through the realization of community-driven recovery projects. The implemented the program with support from USAID and Irish Aid in collaboration with three local NGOs in Chechnya and Ingushetia. It was the first program of its type in the region IRC.
The IRC and its partners worked to gain support for the program through meetings with community members and leaders, service providers, and others. They facilitated public meetings that brought people together to discuss common issues. Communities themselves selected key problems to be addressed through a recovery sub-project. To encourage local control of the projects, communities contributed at least 20% of the total project cost. Community Recovery Committees (CRCs), locally, elected and made up of respected community members, implemented and designed the sub-projects, created budgets and organized community contributions.
The Civic Recovery program has benefited over 50,000 people. Projects included water systems and drainage systems; renovation of schools and health centers; and construction of sidewalks, sport facilities and playgrounds. The IRC has worked intensively with 11 local civil society organizations in the region. The IRC Civil Society Development Program was implemented in the Republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan, and Chechnya and worked to strengthen civil society through providing training and mentoring to help organizations strengthen and sustain their work. Grants were issued to nine of these organizations which supported a wide variety of projects including information campaigns on housing rights, promoting tolerance between different ethnic groups and aid for children injured by landmines.
Beginning in 2000, the IRC provided humanitarian assistance to those displaced by the conflict in Chechnya and in the neighboring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan. At the height of the emergency the IRC offered 30,000 displaced people emergency education and help reintegrating of children into mainstream education, psychosocial support, emergency healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation. The emergency assistance ended in 2007.
The IRC is grateful to the following agencies which have supported the IRC’s work in the North Caucasus: USAID; US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and Department for Democracy Rights and Labor; European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO); Stichting Vluchteling; Irish Aid and American Express.