October 25, 2007 ORT IC evaluates aid project for Burundis ex-combatants World ORTs non-sectarian humanitarian department, ORT International Cooperation, has completed a thorough evaluation of a $75 million World Bank-funded programme to reintegrate the veterans of Burundis 11-year civil war into peaceful occupations. More than 50,000 members of the warring Hutu and Tutsi factions are eligible for assistance under the four-year National Demobilisation, Reinsertion and Reintegration of Ex-Combatants Programme (PNDRR) in Burundi, a landlocked central African country of 8 million inhabitants. A three-person ORT IC team spent nearly two months in Burundi earlier this year to interview beneficiaries, bureaucrats and aid workers as well as sift through mountains of documents to produce the most accurate and objective assessment they could of the effectiveness of the programmes activities over the past two years. ORT ICs 65-page final report will be presented to PNDRR officials in the Burundian capital Bujumbura next week by the IC teams expert in human resources and finance, Roland Mattagne. Judith Fiss, a staff member at ORT ICs Geneva office, was the team member primarily responsible for issues relating to women, child soldiers and disabled ex-combatants. She said that the final report identified several ways in which the programme could be improved. We interviewed 190 ex-combatants throughout the country and found that some of them have derived significant benefit from PNDRR. The programme has helped some ex-combatants to reintegrate into civil society in a sustainable way. But other people are still struggling, some because they are no longer receiving help, and others due to the current famine in some parts of the country, Ms Fiss, who has a background in social work, said. However, Ms Fiss added that there was no doubt that the programme should continue. We recommend the extension of the programme because there has not been enough time to integrate all ex-combatants. The programme started after an 18-month delay and it would be a catastrophe if the work thats been going on suddenly stopped. People would be left high and dry and may feel a lot of anger at being abandoned. The overall aim of the programme is the peace and stability of Burundi so its vitally important that the programme succeeds, she said. An ex-combatant, who has successfully reintegrated into civil society as a small businessman, poses in his shop with his wife and child. Among the ORT IC recommendations included in the final report: decentralisation of PNDRR decision making a publicity drive to alert current and potential participants, and the general public, to the activities of PNDRR the development of vocational training projects psychological problems amongst ex-combatants be taken seriously and treated greater efforts to make social inclusion projects accessible to the physically disabled I have every confidence that the people running PNDRR, and the World Bank, will take our report into account; it wont just be filed away to collect dust. This is one of the first programmes of its type that the World Bank has supported. By helping Burundi implement this programme, we hope that our report will also add value to similar programmes in other countries, said Ms Fiss. The Director of the ORT IC Geneva office, Randy Grodman, added: After a competitive bidding process, ORT IC was selected by the government of Burundi to undertake this important project. We were chosen due to our organisations vast experience implementing and evaluating aid programmes in Africa, our successful completion of many World Bank-financed projects, ORTs excellent reputation in the field of human resources development, and the top quality team of experts that we offered. More than 200,000 people perished and another 200,000 people were displaced during widespread ethnic fighting that followed the assassination of Burundis first democratically elected president in October 1993. A South African-brokered ceasefire with the mainly Christian countrys last rebel group was signed in September last year. While political stability and the end of the civil war have improved aid flows and seen an increase in economic activity, the country suffers from a high poverty rate, poor education rates, a weak legal system and low administrative capacity. More than 90 per cent of Burundis population is dependent on subsistence agriculture and economic growth depends overwhelmingly on coffee and tea exports. ORT IC has benefited people in 98 countries since 1960 through its non-sectarian, technical assistance and training projects. Current projects which are funded by bilateral and multi-lateral aid agencies and by private foundations include vocational training, health and nutrition, agriculture and rural development, good governance and democracy strengthening, and information technology. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has helped more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish since its foundation in 1880.