-Security remains alarming to send service providers to conflict areas
– Private and state security forces to protect project implementers in conflict areas
The Ministry of Finance, World Bank and UN agencies have finalized preparations to launch the Response-Recovery-Resilience for Conflict Affected Communities in Ethiopia (3R-4-CACE) in a month time.
The project is designed to rehabilitate infrastructures damaged by war and conflicts and resume basic services including health, education, electricity, sanitation, supporting gender-based violence survivors and others.
The projects will be implemented in Oromia, Amhara, Afar, Benishangul Gumuz and Tigray regional states, and will be implemented for five years between 2022 and 2027. The project office is staffed with local as well as foreign experts.
The reconstruction and recovery activities in Tigray will be operated by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) under the guise of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), according to officials.
The MoF and its partners have already compiled detailed operational and implementation documents for the project.
Security Risk Assessment, Standard Operating Procedures, Comprehensive Social Assessment, Security Management Plan, Labor Management Procedure, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Prevention and Response Action Plan, Environmental and Social Management Framework, and Project Continuity Plan, are among the finalized documents.
Yet, the damage assessment report from the target woredas and kebeles in the five regional states is pending, though initially anticipated to be finalized in June 2022.
The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health have finalized compiling the damage reports last week.
The first phase of the project is set to roll out with USD 300 million from World Bank and 20 billion birr from Ethiopian government. The next phases will follow as soon as finance is availed, according to officials at the project office at the Ministry of Finance. Regional states, sector ministries and international partners are also preparing to launch their own recovery projects.
The total reconstruction cost is expected to create a strain on the economy.
For instance, according to Ministry of Education’s “Conflict Impact Assessment and Recovery Plan (CIARP) Sector Report,” launched weeks ago, requires USD 2.2 billion to rebuild the education sector alone.
“While information being incomplete, particularly for Colleges of Teachers Education (CTEs) and bureaus of education at woreda and zone level, the estimated damage on educational facilities and equipment is estimated to be around USD 1.9 billion. Considering the policy, institutional and investment needs needed to recover lost learning and to build destructed facilities better, the figure goes to USD 2.2 billion,” reads the report.
However, security concerns for the safety of employees remains high, as the project office makes final preparations to resume the services.
“There is fear of sending out employees to active conflict areas like Tigray, west and south Oromia and Benishangul. Tigray will be covered by UN agencies so we do not have to send our staffs. In other regional states where conflict is active, we will not resume the services since the insurgents will destroy the infrastructure again. So most probably the reconstruction project will be implemented only in towns and urban areas,” said an official at the project office at the MoF, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“The implementation of the 3R-4-CACE Project will likely be met by significant safety and security risks that must not be underestimated,” states the Security Risk Assessment (SRA). Without a responsive and agile security risk management system, project implementation risks either being limited to urban centers or major program disruption due to delays and losses in the field. Though the security risk situation has improved in the last six months, significant operational challenges remain, according to the assessment.
The five targeted regions have seen the highest numbers of conflict and security incidents since November 2021 with Oromia, Amhara and Afar having incident numbers well into the hundreds. The majority of these have been conflict in nature, and whilst direct targeting of aid and development staff has reportedly been minimal, direct targeting of government staff has been reported, and such conflict activity suggests a considerable threat of collateral damage to reconstruction operations in these Regions, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED).
As a result, the SRA documents recommend the deployment of “Security services may be delivered by a range of actors, including both private security companies as well as state actors (such as the army or police).”