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Harnessing local social-capital to enrich the experiences of refugee women and girls in Malawi

Mobilising the religious and traditional leaders to promote moral, hospitable,inclusive, and a tolerance culture in communities for refugees

Photo of Thokozile Phiri-Nkhoma
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Dzaleka Refugee Camp has a serious challenges related to Women and Girls welfare. The Camp is over 15 Years old and 566% overpopulated as a result of growing conflicts from neighboring countries such as Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. The current total number of refugees in the camp is at 36,000 and keeps growing as a result of the monthly entrants of about 700 people. There exists no social and/or economic sustenance programs for refugees particularly women, some of which have stayed in the camp for over 10 years and apparently are unable to return to their home countries. Women and girls face rape, defilement, sexual abuse, gender based violence due to increased vulnerability as a result of lack economic support as they rely on food rations only. The camp is in a bad economic and humanitarian state, male refugees often find themselves with alternative money earning options. Unmanaged Sex work is becoming rampant among female minors as the only option for survivor, which has increased teen pregnancies and STIs. Empowering refugees mother and girls within the camp with economic enablers would reduce gender based violence and promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights as reported at https://mwnation.com/food-crisis-hits-dzaleka/. In addition Malawi has severe policy gaps in terms of management of the refugee situation, the provision of the 1989 refugee act were adopted from the 1951 protocol that does not allow refugees to take up economic activities in Malawi, this has not been reviewed yet. With continued donor fatigue and decrease in external support, a food crisis is rooming which will affect a total number of 36000 refugees including women and girls in Dzaleka and Luwani camps, as a result, Refugees (People on the Move) that are freeing from the camps into host communities where they are subjected to serious human rights violation particularly women and girls. Most of these violations are undocumented and unreported by the victims.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The project will be implemented in Southern Africa, Malawi, In Dowa and Lilongwe districts where over 40,000 refugees are found districts. Dowa districts os close tot he Capital City of Malawi Lilongwe. Dowa hosts the Dzaleka camp where the refugees from all Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burundi. It is worth noting that Malawi is used as a channel for most people in transit to South Africa to seek better jobs from the rest of East and Central Africa.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Socio gap between people on the move and host communities is usually wide, most host communities believe that as people on the move join their communities they come to compete for resources, land and opportunities. This project will invigorate Host communities through engagement of religious leaders, local faith leaders who will carry out inclusive clinics aimed at educating the masses on tolerance, hospitality to refugees to improve life experience and restore their joy, and human dignity.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Women and girl refugees in Malawi face stigma and discrimination, physical violence, sexual and gender based violence, being ostracised particularly young girls attending public schools. All these situation become life threatening as well as hardship circumstances. Host communities often do not take action, and or care for the bad predicaments that refugees populations face because of lack of knowledge, information on rights, bad social beliefs and ideologies. These negative attitude among host communities are cultivated by conservatisms that has been built in a multigenerational way, to address these root causes, engagement of local gate keepers such as religious leaders, and local traditional leaders through tailored inclusive clinics will facilitate information and knowledge transfer that will build a mindset of inclusivity among the host communities.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

We anticipate that after this project, cases of physical abuse Sexual and Gender based violence targeted at women and girls in Dzaleka will be reduced. since the host communities will be better educated and engaged to accommodate and respect the rights of women and girls refugees. In addition, we anticipate to experience an increased level of engagement and interaction of refugee people particularly women and girls in host community social activities and being integrated in the communities there by enriching their life experience within the communities of focus. In the long run, most refugee people especially women and girls will have established social contacts, relationships that will not only make their life fulfilling but also promote a shared benefit landscape where the host communities will open opportunities to learn cultures practices and skills of the joining community members

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

This project has been inspired after observing and encountering severe cases of sexual and gender based violence cases among women and girls refugees in Malawi. FACT has been inspired by the positive opportunities that exist among refugee women and girls that local host communities are not building especially with the wide social gap and negative perceptionsIn addition. Malawi has severe policy gaps in terms of management of the refugee situation, the provision of the 1989 refugee act were adopted from the 1951 protocol that does not allow refugees to take up economic activities in Malawi, this has not been reviewed yet. With continued donor fatigue and decrease in external support, a food crisis is rooming which will affect a total number of 36000 refugees including women and girls in Dzaleka and Luwani camps, as a result, Refugees (People on the Move) that are freeing from the camps into host communities where they are subjected to serious human rights violation.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The Dzaleka refugee Camp in Malawi has a diversity of nationalities this include Burundians, Sudanese, Ethiopians and Congolese. their diversity makes this place a high cultural risk environment given their experiences in post conflict torture, To facilitate the process of assimilation and integration. FACT conducts dramas and interactive cultural sensitisation events like these in the photo this also helps to create community tolerance and hospitality

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Through the inclusive clinics that are going to be led by religious and traditional leaders within the communities, people are going to be exposed to information and knowledge on rights of refugees, this will also help demystify assumptions and insecurities that communities have around settlement of refugees/people on the move within their societies. ON the other hand their capacity will be built there by being responsive to any reported cases of Sexual and Gender based and physical violence targeted at women and girls refugees. Information and knowledge empowerment among communities will be passed on from generation to generation making the inclusive clinics within the communities s sustainable avenue to improve the welfare of people on the move within Malawi.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

FACT will seek to build partnership with already existing partners whoa re working with refugees in Malawi such as Plan International Malawi, The ministry of Home Affairs under the department of refugees, the Malawi Interfaith of AIDS Association (MIAA), The Malawi Christian Youth Alliance and the UNHCR.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

Facilitators of Community Transformation (FACT)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Facilitators of Community Transformation (FACT) is a woman led, non governmental organisation with direct contact with communities that exists to promote sustainable development in Malawi, by ensuring that marginalised populations (Women, Girls, Children, Youth and key populations) are accorded their fundamental rights and equitable access to economic, health, education and public services through research, social mobilization, capacity building, networking and advocacy. The organization was formed in the year 2016 by a team of five women advocates after identifying prevailing challenges that affected Women and Girls within their communities in Lilongwe District. FACT envisions a developed, gender sensitive just society free from poverty and human suffering. FACT focuses on promoting meaningful engagement and sustainable, community-led change by bridging the gap between the local communities, and people on the Move (Refugees) Women and Girls groups.

Website URL:

http://www.factmw.org

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Lilongwe, Malawi

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Central Region of Malawi

2 comments

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Comment
Photo of Sevde Şengün
Team

Hello Thokozile Phiri-Nkhoma  great to have your idea on the platform for the challenge. It's exciting and I really like your idea's touchpoints and your visuals! As the ideas phase comes to an end within few hours, we would encourage you to again have a last look at the evaluation criteria here: https://ideo.to/NQ6TlJ
Also, it will be exciting for your to check out other ideas on the platform, provide some feedback and explore potential areas of collaboration with them! For example check out Jirani Bora : https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/2019-bridgebuilder-challenge/ideas/jirani-bora

Photo of Thokozile Phiri-Nkhoma
Team

Thank you so much Sevde Sengun for your comments and insights, i will look through some of the other ideas already posted. Thank you.