“Those who continue with the MUSO do so because it brings them together. It teaches them to save, even little by little. They learn to love each other”
(Female MUSO member, Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo)
The TFV aims to provide material support in order to respond to the urgent socio-economic conditions of victims in war-affected areas under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Issues which the TFV seeks to address include the destruction of property, and the consequences of displacement and the loss of income-earning family members, all of which diminish the sources of livelihood and subsistence.
The establishment of community-based savings and solidarity groups are one of the primary interventions of the TFV. In northern Uganda, these groups are mainly structured on the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) model, pioneered by CARE International. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, savings groups are mainly based on the Mutuelle de Solidarité (MUSO) model and the Savings and Internal Lending Committee (SILC) model. Their common objective is the same; to promote greater economic security and to foster a sense of shared responsibility among participants.
In northern Uganda, the TFV supports other activities to revive livelihoods, including the provision of vocational training for bee-keeping, improved agricultural techniques, tree-planting and the introduction and scaling-up of new commercial crops (for example chilli growing). In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the TFV supports partners who provide direct support for individual victims in the form of micro-credit initiatives, vocational training, literacy training, and for developing community savings groups. Further forms of assistance include education and learning grants, reintegration programmes for ex-child soldiers, rebuilding of community infrastructure, and creation of employment opportunities.
Previous TFV programmes have indicated that the longer term sustainability and impact of material assistance has been highly rewarding and promising. Savings groups in particular are a strong demonstration of the potential for community-grown, community-owned and community-managed interventions in post-conflict settings. Economic activities such as these are empowering for group members, as evinced in their strong sense of dignity and self-worth.
The changes reported back by victim participants include the ability to pay school fees, to afford more than one meal a day, improved housing and newfound ability to purchase parcels of land, and the ability to make capital investments for small businesses (on both an individual and a collective basis). In addition, many respondents attributed the ability to return to work and be economically active as the greatest contributor to improvements in their sense of security and their mental health.