One of the project’s core components which aims to normalize the lives of victims and their families not only by providing the survivors of mine incidents with prostheses and mobility aids, but also through identifying income generating activities to help them sustain themselves, reintegrate them into society, and contribute to the development of the region.
Core Activities of Victim Assistance are as follows:-
- Database on landmines survivors:
A database of 764 mine victims was created including details on mine victims and relevant incidents. The database was used by Exec Sec in its contacts with concerned authorities to enable mine victims to be recognized as handicapped and receive financial support from the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
- Medical Interventions and Physical Rehabilitation:
In February 2009, Executive Secretariat launched its procedures for medical & surgical interventions in cases of explosions accompanied with a survey and assessment of medical centers along the North West Coast. The procedures were updated in February 2012 in preparation for training courses on its application for doctors and medical operators in the Governorate.
- Fitting Amputees with Prostheses:
A total of 438 amputees were provided with artificial limbs including (255) landmine victims who were fitted once, (156) fitted for the second time, in addition to (27) patients with amputation resulting from chronic diseases and accidents.
Cases have been funded in cooperation with the European Union, Resala Association, The New Zealand Government, My Way Company Co. Mohamed Mansour, Arab Doctors Union, Dr. Nawal El Degwy, and “Fee Mohabet El Rahman” Association for Charities & Societal Development, and Rotary Club (North Giza).
Prostheses Maintenance: Periodic maintenance for Artificial Limbs is taking place in cooperation with the Governorate of Matruh.
Artificial Limbs Center in Matruh:
Physical Rehabilitation for mine victims mainly takes place in Cairo due to the absence of the service in Matruh Governorate. For that, Exec Sec is currently working on equipping and preparing the center Artificial Limbs Center in Matruh Governorate. This Center is mainly funded by the European Union and in cooperation with Matruh Governorate.
- Capacity Building for Local NGOs
Executive secretariat endeavored to engage local civil society organizations, mainly for mine risk education and victim empowerment (social and economic).
This takes place by:
- Selecting four active and reputable CSOs that are targeting landmine victims and/or their families in Matruh Governorate (based on nominations from the Directorate of Social Affairs in Matruh)
- Strengthening the selected CSOs to efficiently and effectively implement the Project-related activities; because main obstacles to engaging them are identified as their weak institutional capacities, lack of experience in rights-based development approaches, limited financial and human resources to implement and manage economic empowerment schemes (e.g., micro-credit and income generating activities), and working separately from each other and from the other stakeholders (local government and private sector entities).
Accordingly, starting Feb 2012, Four Local NGOs received Capacity Building Training (funded by the New Zealand Government) with an eye to enabling them to overview and manage funds earmarked to help landmine victims and their families run their own income generating projects. Until now, only one local NGO out of these 4 has accepted to administer the Micro- credit loans for the benefit of the survivors of mine incidents.
In addition to that and in 2014, the Exec. Sec. provided financial aid to the Matruh Mine Victims for Social and Economic Development Association which is the only local NGO out of the four who received the capacity building training who accepted to administer microcredit loans for landmine victims and their families.
- Economic and Financial Empowerment for Landmine Victims and Their Families
In the outset, the project faced some difficulties in dealing with tribal dynamics and a unique cultural setting, given that the landmine-contaminated areas of the North West Coast are predominantly inhabited by Bedouin communities, who may at times be reluctant in dealing with external actors. At the same time, these tribal characteristics remain crucial to understanding the social impact of the mine problem in Egypt, as well as the challenges to meet local needs and develop inclusive and participatory victim assistance and economic reintegration strategies.
Within such context, the Egypt Mine Action program has looked at the project’s activities from the long-term, sustainable perspective. Accordingly the project initiated a series of intensive meetings with the different stakeholders involved in the process, including the mine victims and their representatives, traditional leaders and local religious leaders, as well as representatives from the Governorate and relevant sector Ministries.
This consultative process, aiming to further engage the mine victims in their own development process, represented a major shift towards a more participatory, bottom-up approach in which the victims are not merely regarded as recipients of development plans but as the actual drivers of their own development. . The process resulted in the Exec Sec launching a microcredit loan program, income generating activities and facilitations for employment.
This is based on an on-going and intensive participatory process, through the organisation of workshops, meetings, public hearings incorporating victims, families, communities, local representatives and community leaders, representatives of relevant line Ministries, resources centres, Governorate representatives and NGOs, all to ensure that the specific demands and voices of the beneficiaries were fully incorporated in the identification of their direct needs.
- Micro-credit Loans
- The Exec. Sec. has launched a micro-credit loan program in order to empower landmine victims and their families economically and financially.
- Accordingly, the Exec Sec channelled 4 grants for 2 NGOs:
- Three Grants for Matruh Mine Victims for Social and Economic Development Association (funded by USAID, UNDP, and the Government of New Zealand).
- One Grant for Siwa for Community Development and Environmental Conservation Association (funded by USAID).
- So far, a number of 92 micro-credit loans were disbursed to landmine victims and their households in order to start their income generating projects.
- Income Generating Projects
- Kiosk Projects: In 2015, Exec Sec established 9 Kiosk Projects (funded by USAID) for the interest of landmine victims and their families. Kiosks Projects are geographically located as follows: One Kiosk in Siwa, Four Kiosks in Sidi Barrani, Two Kiosks in Salloum, One Kiosk in Daba’a and One Kiosk in Marsa Matruh.
- Sewing Machine Projects: Currently, Exec Sec has announced on the Matruhi radio (which is the popular advertisement tool used there and has a very wide range of audience among the local Matruhi community) the availability of a number of sewing machine projects with a vocational training (funded by USAID). Exec Sec is the process of receiving the candidate requests and identifying the potential beneficiaries (Priority goes to female landmine victims, followed by deceased landmine victims’ widows, landmine children’s mothers and finally landmine survivors’ wives and daughters).
- Facilitations for Employment
- Following the announcement of the Central Agency for Organization and Administration about the opening of 5000 job opportunities for the disabled, the Project has committed itself to helping mine victims apply for these vacancies.
- In this context, the Exec. Sec. (represented by its Field Team in Matruh) helped a number of victims complete their papers and apply for the vacancies offered by the Egyptian Government in Matruh. As a result to this initiative, 28 victims were accepted in different posts according to their level of education, age, and experience and will start their career with the Egyptian Government soon.
- Agro-Industrial Center in Matruh
- In line with Victim Assistance objectives, Exec Sec contracted a consultant to assist the project staff upgrade the Victim Assistance implementation methodology and identify potential income generating projects. The consultancy aimed at aligning the VA component with local sustainable socio-economic development, ensuring the proper consideration of local context and sensitivities, such as tribal affiliation, tribal territorial distribution and specific needs of children and women.
- Accordingly, the Exec Sec decided to establish a Center in Matruh that brings together some of the income generating projects defined by the Consultant and of which the Governorate of Matruh is famous for (This center is referred to as the Agro-Industrial Center). In October 2014, Exec Sec laid the cornerstone for the Agro-Industrial Center and the Ministry of International Cooperation financed the construction of the Center. Currently, the Center is being equipped in cooperation with the European Union and USAID.
- Empowering Landmine Children Victims
- Introducing Technology to Landmine Children Victims: On the 31st of May 2016, 9 laptops (funded by USAID) were distributed to 9 children as a means of capacity building for the child survivors of mine incidents. These children were selected from the Exec Sec landmine victims database (targeting children aged 10 years old- the youngest age in the database- and above). They were given a training session on how to use the laptops by the Exec Sec IM Unit Head. The children’s guardians signed an informed consent that they won’t sell, exchange, or give away these laptops and they’ll only be used by the children. The aim of this initiative was to introduce technology to Landmine child victims as means of empowerment and reintegration in the society.