Based on the belief that the most effective, relevant, and sustainable development projects come from the community itself, FORGE's People-Powered Development Program (PPDP) provides a systematic framework to translate local needs into targeted action. While community participation is a recognized best-practice in sustainable development, the PPDP model is more complete and radically power-shifting than any we have encountered. Its application in a post-conflict setting should be particularly impactful, as it will offer timely support for the growth of civil society and the provision of widescale educational improvement in these communities.
FORGE begins the People-Powered Development Program by identifying emerging social entrepreneurs in the community who are especially capable of spearheading development initiatives. Once chosen, these leaders conduct extensive research through participatory methods to determine specific community needs. The community leaders and FORGE staff work together to develop a deep understanding of these needs and to suggest and analyze possible solutions. This process culminates in the completion of a project proposal, drafted by refugee leaders, that is submitted for funding by FORGE donors. To promote sustainability and avoid creating long-term dependencies, all proposals must demonstrate a plan to become financially independent after the completion of two years. Once the proposal process in complete, the project receives two years of funding from FORGE and is implemented and monitored by a Project Coordinator chosen from and by the group of refugee leaders.
Starting in January 2010, FORGE is prepared to launch six (6) locally-led projects to be developed through our People-Powered Development Program and to be implemented over the course of 3 years. Projects will receive 2 years of FORGE support and will follow a staggered timeline. Year 1 costs include start up and the 1st year of three (3) 1st round projects. Year 2 costs include the final year of three (3) 1st round projects + the 1st year of three (3) 2nd round projects. Year 3 costs include the final year of three (3) 2nd round projects.
Also in early 2010, FORGE will be increasing access to educational and skill-building capacities in Congo through the establishment of local libraries and computer centers. To promote informed and skilled communities, a baseline resource transfer from two FORGE sites in Zambia will provide libraries, computer training centers and solar energy systems. This influx of resources will allow the general public to access materials and trainings, and it will strengthen the research and management capacity of the People-Powered Development Program.
Mission and Overview
Believing in the power of the world's poor to best shape their futures, FORGE works with war-torn African communities to rebuild their lives, stabilize their market systems, and reconstruct social and economic bonds to create the conditions for lasting peace and prosperity. By facilitating the unique People-Powered Development Program and fostering social entrepreneurship in refugee and post-conflict environments, FORGE provides a framework through which solutions to local problems are created within a community instead of imposed upon it.
In response to the well-established links between poverty and conflict, FORGE works to enable economic stability and self-sufficiency at both individual and societal levels. FORGE believes that individuals affected by conflict are crucial actors in breaking the cycle of war and poverty in Africa.
History & Background
Since its founding, FORGE has served over 70,000 refugees from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sudan and Burundi. As an official Operating Partner of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), FORGE runs 23 projects characterized by the following principles:
Community-Driven Programming Model - FORGE's model is based on the belief that the most effective, relevant, and sustainable development projects come from the refugee community itself. In contrast to traditional top-down service-delivery models, FORGE puts project development responsibilities directly in the hands of refugee leaders. Refugees conceive of, design, and implement FORGE's community development projects through our flagship People-Powered Development Program.
Focus on Preparing Refugees for Successful Repatriation - FORGE believes that refugee camps provide ideal environments in which to prepare a citizenry to successfully rebuild their home countries. Our lens on development extends beyond a refugee setting in order to equip refugees with the information and skills that will assist them to reconstruct their lives and communities upon return from exile. This orientation toward repatriation provides a strong foundation for FORGE's expansion into the DRC.
Commitment to Transparency & Information Sharing - FORGE is committed to transparency and organizational learning. We openly share all information and reports about each of our projects on our website, and we circulate lessons learned to all sites and at all levels of the organization. It is our expectation that any results and outcomes achieved through support from CGI and its partners would be shared in a similar manner among all stakeholders.
Proposed Location: Tanganyika Province, DRC
The Tanganyika Province (formerly Katanga Province) in southeastern Congo has a population of approximately 2.5 million people. With access to the western shore of Lake Tanganyika, it is home to the two major port cities of Moba and Kalemie. Rich in minerals and strategically located, the province suffered severe infrastructural devastation during the Second Congo War (1998-2003). Education and health care systems were decimated, and over half of the region was displaced. As in most areas affected by the War, the majority of deaths in the province were the result of a lack of basic economic, nutrition and health care resources. According to a 2001 Washington Post article, a survey in Moba 'showed nearly half of the infants were dying before reaching their first birthday.'
Currently, tens of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are returning to the province, and the region now has both the human potential and natural resources to reestablish itself as an economically prosperous hub. Given its location on the lake and its proximity to the still-volatile Kivu region, the Tanganyika Province has the potential to be both a hub of trade and economic growth for the country and a model of re-stabilization and development for its neighbor provinces to the north. In addition, thousands of refugees FORGE works with (or has worked with) in Kala, Meheba and Mwange camps in Zambia are relocating to the province at this time under UNHCR's voluntary repatriation program.
Results of Assessment Mission
In 2007, support from the Watson Foundation allowed FORGE to conduct an assessment mission to the Tanganyika Province of DRC. Members of FORGE's executive team were hosted by UNHCR and met with territory administrators, immigration officers, police officials and security personnel. UNHCR staff extended a standing offer to sanction FORGE operations, and they encouraged FORGE to first focus on the large port city of Moba. Per UNHCR, the 450,000-resident territory of Moba is where the majority of refugees are returning and where reconstruction efforts are most vital. The assessment mission also allowed FORGE to lay the groundwork for establishing operations in the Congo-in terms of staffing, funding, and logistics, as well as in terms of collaborating with UNHCR, partner NGOs, and government agencies. This assessment coupled with FORGE's previous work in Zambia have given the organization a nuanced perspective into the challenges communities recovering from war face, as well as a vision for how FORGE's model could help returned refugees revitalize their communities.
To facilitate planning for the DRC Revitalization Initiative commitment launch in January 2010, FORGE has applied for and received formal NGO status from the Congolese government. In August 2009, FORGE hired and placed a Country Director and Site Coordinator who are currently collecting and analyzing baseline indicators and making final preparations for a January launch.
SEEKING: financial assistance, best practice information, media and marketing opportunities. Funding is the major resource FORGE needs to implement this commitment.
OFFERING: financial assistance, implementing partnership, best practice information. FORGE would be happy to contribute information on collaborative development and/or post-conflict settings.