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Living at the Edges: Poverty and Armed Conflict Kathleen Kostelny Christian Children’s Fund.

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Presentation on theme: "Living at the Edges: Poverty and Armed Conflict Kathleen Kostelny Christian Children’s Fund."— Presentation transcript:

1 Living at the Edges: Poverty and Armed Conflict Kathleen Kostelny Christian Children’s Fund

2 Link between Poverty and Armed Conflict Poverty creates enabling conditions for armed conflict Wealth inequities Social exclusion Relative deprivation Humiliation, lack of respect and dignity Poverty continues after conflicts have ended

3 The Changed Nature of Conflicts Prior to WWII, 90% casualties were soldiers Today 90% casualties are civilians Communities directly targeted Conflicts are protracted, fought within borders Use of lightweight weapons Children used as soldiers

4 Direct Consequences More than 2 million children died in last decade More than 20 million children displaced from their homes More than 6 million children permanently disabled or injured

5 Macro-level Economic Impacts of Armed Conflicts Militarization of economies Destruction of infrastructure Loss of basic services Increase in diseases Lost social capital Inflation, corruption Fighting over scarce resources Mass unemployment Youth idling, and youth alienation

6 Micro-level Economic Impacts of Armed Conflicts Loss of homes, livestock, crops, tools, land, other means of livelihood Food insecurity Increased scarcity and declining assets Disruption of existing coping mechanisms with extended family, neighbors, and community Loss of family members who can work Child headed households Child labor

7 Risks to Young Children Separation from parents Risks of rearing by extended or foster families Survival choices Effective care issues - caregivers overwhelmed - children on own or ‘in care’ of siblings Under-stimulation Weak attachment

8 Risks to School Age Children Disruption of education Disruption of socialization with peers Dangers in environment Dangerous labor Forced early marriage

9 Risks to Teenagers Limited options: ‘idling’, engagement in crime, and substance abuse increases Recruitment into armed groups Prostitution

10 Vulnerable Groups Displaced children Separated children Street children Children who are trafficked Sexual & gender-based violence Disabilities Child headed households Child labor Child soldiers

11 Ways children enter Abducted Volunteer - only way to get food, clothes Volunteer - ideological reasons Fleeing abusive homes

12 Child Soldier’s Roles Diverse: combatant, cook, spy, porter, laborer, servant, bodyguard, sex slave, medic Multiple, concurrent roles

13 Positive Consequences Develop positive competencies Organizing Educating Implications for integration programs

14 Sierra Leone: Sealing the Past, Facing the Future Experiences of young girls in Sierra Leone during armed conflict Psychosocial Impact Holistic community based program Outcome research on re- integration of girls into communities

15 Sierra Leone - 1991-2001 Armed conflict - RUF, government, CDF One of the most brutal and horrific conflicts Human rights abuses, forced amputation of limbs Destroyed infrastructure, widespread poverty Among the lowest HDI ratings worldwide Child soldiers - 48,000

16 Assessment - 2002 Conducted by local CCF staff where projects were already ongoing - had trust of community Nearly every household had a girl 10-18 abducted and raped More than 90% STD’s 57% had a child as a result of rape

17 Impacts Health impacts: sexually transmitted diseases Spiritual impacts --polluted, communal contamination Economic impacts --lack of education and skills, inability to meet basic needs or care for their children, prostitution

18 Psychosocial Impacts Stigmatized by family and community - unclean Shunned, lived “at edges” of community Not allowed to “eat off same plate” Called “prostitute” and “rebel girl” Heads unclear” - couldn’t do business Shame and hopelessness about the future Stigmatization of girls’ children - viewed as abnormal, diseased, called rebel children Unable to marry

19 Sealing the Past: Facing the Future (SEFAFU): Goals -Reintegrate girls back into their communities -Enhance their psychosocial well-being -Develop community-based protection for girls -Address economic needs

20 Needs according to girls and community Health issues addressed Traditional cleansing rituals Economic supports

21 Project Scope and Timeframe 600 girls 10-18 years of age Inclusion of other highly vulnerable children (girls whose parents had been killed) - Northern and Eastern Provinces where conflict most intense - Pilot phase 2001-2003 400 girls - Scaling up 2003-2006 200 girls Focus: community protection, health, traditional cleansing, and income generation

22 Community Engagement and Integration of Cultural Practices Dialogue and consultation with community Drew on community resources, groups C ommunity nurses and traditional healers became catalysts for developing and guiding program

23 Community Protection Mechanisms Establishment of community protection committees Open dialogue about mitigation and prevention of sexual violence Collectively established by-laws & penalties Radio programming Community dialogues & drama Monitoring of community situation

24 Health Health screening STD’s treated Ministry of Health Unicef

25 Traditional Healing Need to rid bad spirits and impurities Collective harm to community from violation Restoration of stable mind and spiritual harmony

26 Livelihood Supports business development workshops skills training in soapmaking, gara tie- dying, crocheting, etc. year-long loans ($75) with monthly payback and 10% interest business activities--hulling rice, sewing, selling items such as cigarettes & palm oil small business groups & monitoring

27 Impact Assessment January 2006 Narrative and quantitative indicators Triangulation of diverse sources Comparison of “matched” Sefafu and non-Sefafu villages Emphasis on social function as defined locally Group discussions with over 200 girls and over 100 elders and parents in ten communities, Koinadugu & Kaihlun Districts

28 Key Impacts Health Education Livelihoods Community Acceptance

29 Livelihoods Increased levels of household income Proxy measure - cups of rice 5-6 cups of rice per day: Sefafu Vs. 2-3 cups per day for non-program

30 Health 80% SEFAFU girls received health care vs.. 10% of girls in comparison villages

31 Education 50% SEFAFU girls in school vs.. 10% of non-program girls

32 Social Acceptance Community Acceptance: Reduced stigma and isolation Higher rates of marriage Family acceptance - “not feared” Girls viewed as contributing, self-reliant citizens

33 “We had been ashamed of what had been done to us. We arrived naked from the bush, without support. Now we are respected in our village.”

34 Summary of What Worked Listening to girls, families, & communities Nonexclusionary focus on girl mothers Traditional healing and resources Combination of family and community destigmatization & protection Income generation Holistic, integrated approach that enabled identity and role transformation with positive community change

35 Situation of Male Ex-Combatants Tensions between ex-combatants and community Stigmatization as “rebels”—dire predictions Jealousies & “blood money” Identity & social role Hopelessness due to lost education & lack of skills Greatest reported stresses were economic no means of earning a living:

36 “When I came out of the bush, I had nothing….. No shoes, no shirt, nothing. I could not come into the village this way. I had to have a means of living and of helping my family.”

37 Strategy for Skills Training and Employment Generation Koinadugu District focus Reduce tensions between ex-combatants and non- excombatants by means of cooperation on shared goals Enable former youth soldiers to achieve a positive role in their community Meet basic needs of ex-combatants through stop-gap employment Activate traditional processes of reconciliation

38 Skills Training and Employment Generation Program Activities Community mobilization & empowerment Communities prioritize needs Workshops on reconciliation, healing, tolerance Valorization and use of local processes of conflict resolution, purification Ex-combatants and civilians cooperate on civic works, earning a stipend Skills training Business mentoring Solidarity groups & income generation

39 Outcomes & Impact Civic works: 53 projects; 3400 people Skills training and employment for 650 ex-combatants Reduced stress and spiritual contamination Improved relations between ex-combatants and community members & among ex-combatants Reduced divisiveness within communities Increased use of nonviolent means of handling conflict Greater sense of hope and unity Increased understanding of village role in the peace process

40 “We used to fear them [youth soldiers] and thought they would start fighting in our communities. When they came from the bush, we looked at them as animals. At first, it was difficult to bring them together since ex-combatants themselves were hot-headed. But then they learned to get along. The works brought them together, they learned to get along, and we see they are not animals.”

41 Key Lessons Healing and reintegration are collective as well as individual Cultural bases of coping and resilience -- building on local assets, practices, and understandings Value of blending Western and local approaches. Interconnection of spiritual, emotional, social, and economic Build on children’s and youth’s agency

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