Synergy of Women for the Victims of Sexual Violence (SFVS), North Kivu
SFVS is a registered NGO with the provincial government.
Goma, North Kivu province
Sectors of InterventionSexual violence; health; human rights
SFVS (Synergie des femmes pour les victimes des violences sexuelles) was founded in 2002to streamline local efforts to fight sexual violence in North Kivu. SFVS serves as a collaborationpoint for 35 member organizations, as well as a program implementer, primarily operating programsin the domains of judicial reform, lobbying, and economic reintegration for survivors. SFVS wasinfluential in drafting the 2006 bill passed by the national legislature stating that a woman couldnot be married if younger than the age of 18 and that sexual violence was one of the highest punish-able crimes. SFVS has worked with international funders such as the government of Holland, DDC(Switzerland), Amnesty International, ECI, and ICCO.
MissionSFVS promotes collaboration between CBOs engaged in all forms of assistance for sexual violence survivors in eastern DRC, in order to increase the quality of and access to support for survivors and restore survivors to a healthy, respectful state.
- Provide increased quality and quantity of services to sexual violence survivors by collaboration with service providers through a network
- Advocate provincial, national, and international governments to ensure systems and laws protecting women’s rights are put in place and practiced
- Lobbying for equitable justice: SFVS creates “Judicial marketing” to mobilize local authorities and the local and international community to demand that judicial services guaranteed by the Congolese law are provided for survivors of gender-based violence.
- Legal assistance: Member organizations of the SFVS coalition provide survivors with legal counsel and the prosecution of cases in the provincial or military court if there is sufficient evidence.
- Psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence: SFVS organizes reference systems and trains counselors throughout North Kivu to provide consistent psychosocial care for survivors.
- Medical support for survivors: SFVS listening points, placed throughout North Kivu, refer survivors to partner organizations for appropriate medical care.
- Economic assistance for survivors: SFVS provides income generation grants and support through collective agriculture fields to women’s associations in order to assist survivors with reintegration back into their communities. These grants are disbursed anonymously, in order not to stigmatize survivors.
SFVS is a coalition of 35 organizations with its own separate administrative structure. The general assembly is the supreme government of the organization and includes one representative from each of the partner organizations. The administration council comprises ten select representatives from the 35 partner organizations based on which organizations are the most active in the coalition. The administration council oversees and selects the personnel of SFVS, who are charged with coordinating the collaboration and activities among member groups. The coordinator of SFVS directly supervises SFVS personnel. SFVS has 11 staff members.
SFVS has a bank account at BIC in Goma. For financial, administrative, and personnel management, SFVS has:
- A procedures manual with policies for financial management; hiring and personnel issues; and purchasing policies and procedures: YES
- A computerized accounting system: YES
- A clearly defined accounting process: YES
- Clear procedures for management of payroll, petty cash, procurement, and disbursements: YES
- Staff with the technical expertise to undertake projects: YES
- Unifies the majority of the main actors combating sexual violence in North Kivu, creating a comprehensive strategy so that organizations can complement each other’s work and avoid redundancies
- Justine Bihamba, the coordinator of SFVS, has extensive experience in the field and was one of the first activists in eastern DRC to denounce sexual violence as a major issue.
- Reaches the majority of the southern half of North Kivu through its member organizations and, as a result, often has the most up-to-date perspective on conflict situations
- As cited in the evaluation of SFVS’s three-year plan (performed by an outside evaluator), the organization needs to improve its internal administration and monitoring and evaluation practices. This involves clarifying the role of member organizations and staff in leading its activities.
- The staff of SFVS is competent in the field, but when Justine Bihamba, the coordinator of SFVS, is not present in the office, it is often difficult to find a strong alternative spokesperson for the organization who can effectively convey to influential visitors/donors the issues SFVS is working to address.
- It is challenging to unify 35 different organizations that are all applying for the same funding; at times personality clashes prevent collaboration. If the project was executed by one organization as opposed to a coalition, the impact of the project would be much lower due to the breadth of interventions and community networking required, but initiatives or conferences unifying the organizations in the coalition would be beneficial.
Funders and BudgetThe 2010 budget was $250,000. Donors include the government of Holland, DDC (Switzerland), Amnesty International, FrontLine, ECI, and ICCO (Dutch).
- Helped to pass the 2006 sexual violence national legislation
- Was the first coalition to streamline services for sexual violence survivors
- In 2009, helped more than 2,200 survivors with legal, medical, and economic assistance
Success StorySynergie des Femmes pour les Victimes de Violences Sexuelles (SVFS, Synergy of Women for Sexual Violence Victims) is a coalition that brings together 35 loca... Read More »
Organizational VisionCommunities respect the rights of women and survivors of gender-based violence have access to all necessary support to help them recover.
- Election education: Educate rural communities throughout North Kivu on the national and local election process. Hold in-depth seminars with women interested in running for local office, clearly explaining the steps for entering the elections and beginning a campaign. Cost: $80,000 (over nine months)
- Prosecution of sexual violence cases: Hold trainings for lawyers and judges on the law against sexual violence and provide funding to prosecute cases in court. Cost: $40,000
- Legal and advocacy seminars: Hold capacity-building training for SFVS personnel and member organizations on how to navigate the legal system and achieve effective advocacy at local and international levels. Cost: $20,000