WHAT WE DO
The Better Life International is currently implementing activities within (9) nine sectors, namely: Housing and small-scale infrastructure, Income generation through grant and micro-finance, Food security & agricultural rehabilitation and development, Displacement-related law and information, Social rehabilitation, NGO networking and capacity development, Humanitarian mine action, Information management and coordination and Emergency logistics and transport management.
These sectors should be seen as cross-cutting, providing a broad overview of the work and various activities of the numerous programmes all over the world.
Housing and small-scale infrastructure: refers to a variety of different activities with the same goal: To establish physical conditions for a temporary or permanent home for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees.
An activity that restores and/or ensures physical infrastructure (e.g. shelter, buildings, roads, schools, health clinics and utility supply) in order to provide for basic needs like physical protection and public services to live a normal life. Additionally the objective is to initiate and sustain return, repatriation and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons and to give the residing population a positive incentive to stay in the community".
Displacement frequently results in the loss of key livelihood assets, such as land, production materials, infrastructure or financial capital. Without access to their regular asset base, including the means for income generation, refugees and IDPs become dependent on the passive reception of relief aid and support from the host community.
Income generating activities
BIDA's defines income generating activities as ‘small-scale projects that create an income source to individual beneficiaries or beneficiary groups whilst promoting ( the principal right to self-determination)
BIDA's uses the notion of income generation relatively broadly and as a cover term for a wide variety of activities such as micro-credit, grants, skills- and vocational training, business training, cash/food for work (asset creation) schemes, local economic development initiatives and even small- and medium enterprise development.
BIDA adopts the following definition of food security;
"Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern".
Adopting this definition entails that BIDA sees food security in a wide perspective, where a complex mixture of factors affects the food security of a population. These can be clustered in four areas of potential vulnerability:
- the socio-economic and political environment
- the performance of the food economy
- care and nutrition practices
- hygiene practices, and water and sanitation.
This means that to be successful, food security strategies need to address all these underlying drivers by working in a diversity of sectors such as agriculture, nutrition, health and sanitation, education, social welfare, economics, public works and the environment.
BIDA seeks to partly address this using the Intensive Delivery Mode – through its sectors of production and income generation, housing and small-scale infrastructure, as well as social rehabilitation, partly by seeking complementarity with other organizations or the Government in sectors such as health, education and environment.
No global commonly agreed upon definition exists for agricultural rehabilitation, but BIDA chooses to define it the following way:
"Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development entails (re)establishment of capabilities, assets (material and social) and activities necessary to develop agricultural production and infrastructure such that agriculture becomes a viable livelihood strategy for the population".
Embedded in this definition is the notion that the ultimate goal for BIDA ’s engagement in agricultural rehabilitation is to contribute to the ability of the target group to protect, restore and develop their livelihoods. Hence, it embraces an aim to support the rehabilitation and/or development of the agricultural sector as an “industry” that creates employment. This subsequently means that – depending on the pre-conflict context – the regional/country/operation specific objective may be to rehabilitate agricultural production and infrastructure to its pre-conflict level, or beyond. Hence, it may equally entail changing the pre-conflict structures or systems for e.g. agricultural extension, if these are no longer viable, functional and/or relevant.
Combining the broad scope of food security interventions with the longer-term perspectives ingrained in agricultural rehabilitation and development is directly linked to the mandate and Global Assistance Framework of BIDA , and specifically to the achievement of durable solutions for conflict-affected persons.
As indicated above, the food security and agricultural rehabilitation and development sector is closely intertwined with several of BIDA’s other sectors. When designing and implementing interventions within this sector one should take into account and consider linkages with Grant & Micro Credit, Housing and Small-Scale Infrastructure (particularly Water & Sanitation), Humanitarian Mine Action, Displacement-related Law and Information, and Information Management and Coordination. In some cases the full potential of food security and agricultural rehabilitation and development interventions may not be achieved without complementing with activities of other sectors, in other cases linkages with other sectors may be outright necessary as e.g. a do-no-harm measure.
Types of activities implemented
The sector spans a wide number of activities ranging from food-for-work and distribution of basic seeds and tools to support to Farmer Field Schools, reestablishment of agricultural extension services, and infrastructure for processing and preservation of agricultural produce.
While many of the agricultural activities may seem best suited to rural and non-camp contexts most can be adapted to peri-urban/ urban and camp-based situations focusing on e.g. “backyard”-farming, which can be important for food security and nutrition at household level.
Objectives of social rehabilitation
The objectives of social rehabilitation activities are:
- The creation of a bearable daily day and a greater sense of security.
- Reduction of stress in the time of displacement/the immediate emergency phase following the displacement.
- Fostering a sense of community among the target group, which is important for the longer term development of a well-functioning civil society.
- Revitalizing and rehabilitating damaged social structures, institutions and capacities or even establishing new social structures, which are important to strengthen prior to and during the actual integration/reintegration process.
- Instrumental in ensuring peaceful integration between e.g. returnees and remainees or different ethnic groups, who are to live together in the same community/geographical area.
Community-Based Participatory Approach
An important principle for social rehabilitation activities is to involve the target group in the provision of assistance by identifying and mobilizing the existing resources in a community and allow the community to share the responsibility of caring for itself and its vulnerable members. Thereby social rehabilitation activities aim at enhancing and strengthening existing and positive coping mechanisms in the community thus minimizing the dependency and encouraging self-reliance.
Social rehabilitation activities are best implemented applying a community-based participatory approach. This implies ensuring community participation, both in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
BIDA Demining Group (BDG) is part of the Better Life International Council (BIDA's C) – a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to protect and to provide long-lasting solutions to communities affected by war and armed conflict.
Mine Action in the Wider Humanitarian Context
BDG regards the problems of landmines and ERW in relation to and as a consequence of man-made disaster and armed conflict. Hence, reducing risk and securing safety of communities is not just about implementing mine action activities but must be integrated into a wider understanding of ‘why’ activities at all, and how these mine action activities can ensure further development and risk reduction in other sectors, e.g. access to water and food security.
How BDG operations work
BDG Mine Action has gained competencies within the areas of:
- Community Liaison (CL)
- Survey. Both socio-economic and technical data collection
- Mine Risk Education (MRE)
- Mine Clearance - both manual and mechanical
- Removal of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). This can be Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), which can be demolition of anything from one identified item (Unexploded Ordnance – UXO) to a big stockpile of ammunition. It can also be Battle Area Clearance (BAC), which are areas contaminated with scattered exploded and unexploded ammunition.
- Mine Marking. This also includes marking of dangerous areas containing. items that are not mines, but e.g. Unexploded Ordnance (UXO).
- Risk Management
- Area Reduction (through mine detection dogs (MDD))
- Victim Assistance
- Armed Violence Reduction
- Small Arms Light Weapons
- Gender policies
- Capacity building of national staff and organisations