On October 15 and 16, 2018, Watchlist and its local partner from the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in a joint roundtable on collaboration between child protection and education in humanitarian contexts. Co-hosted by the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (‘the Alliance’) and the Inter-Agency Network of Education in Emergencies (INEE), the two-day conference brought together practitioners from the two sectors to discuss ways to systematically improve collaboration in order to complement and reinforce each other at the field level.

From over 60 submitted abstracts, the Association des Jeunes pour la Développement Intégré-Kalundu (AJEDI-Ka) was among 17 selected to present on best practices in integrated approaches to education and child protection in humanitarian settings. A partner of Watchlist since 2005, AJEDI-Ka gave a presentation on its work to promote the reintegration of girls formerly associated with armed groups and the restoration of their rights.

In partnership with Child Soldiers International (CSI) and local organizations, AJEDI-Ka provided reintegration support, including access to education, medical care, and livelihoods, to girls formerly associated with armed groups in Eastern DRC. From interviews with the girls, their families, communities, authorities, and others, AJEDI-Ka and its partners found that many girls face significant challenges to effective reintegration, including stigmatization, discrimination, and rejection by their communities. However, education was found to contribute to restoring girls’ value and acceptance in the community, a central element to ensuring sustainable and effective reintegration. By promoting the education of girls formerly associated with armed groups, the pilot project promoted the girls’ acceptance in their communities and contributed to their long-term financial empowerment.

Watchlist has supported AJEDI-Ka’s work to monitor, report on, and respond to the grave violations in the DRC’s South Kivu province since 2005. Working through community-based protection committees, AJEDI-Ka documents child rights violations, and advocates on behalf of survivors and their families to improve access to referral services and to prevent future violations. Since 2014, AJEDI-Ka has focused on ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by armed non-state actors (ANSAs). Through sustained engagement with these armed groups, AJEDI-Ka seeks to promote compliance with international norms for the protection of children and to negotiate the release of children from their ranks.

To read more about Watchlist’s work on the DRC, visit: https://watchlist.org/countries/d-r-congo/.