Peace Works - Assam Riot Victims’ Rehabilitation and Development Support Midterm Evaluation Report
In May 1996 and September 1998 Kokrajhar district (lower Assam), consisting of two subdivisions - Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon - witnessed violent ethnic conflict between the majority Bodos and the minority migrant Santhal community. (Although the conflict affected other districts such as Dhubri and Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar was the worst affected.) Hundreds were reportedly killed, thousands of homes destroyed, and several lakh people of both communities displaced. The Assam State government brought in military force to quell the rioting, and over 250,000 people took refuge in 68 relief camps. LWSI responded by providing temporary housing assistance, supplementary nutrition meals for women and children, economic skills training, clothing, education (school buildings and teachers) and so on. In this, it has been working together with other national and international NGOs. LWSI was also closely involved in the work of the local Inter Church Peace Mission, which worked to restore mutual trust between the two communities. NELC and Normisjon were also partners in these peace efforts. During 2003 the conflict level gradually came down, and lot of people wanted to go back to their homestead where they had to begin rebuilding their village totally from scratch. LWSI was approached by the District Commissioner to assist in rehabilitating those families who have returned to their own lands, by providing a variety of support - infrastructure (roads), housing, drinking water, education and livelihood. There were also requests coming from the riot victims and the government officials for rehabilitation that LWSI should intervene substantially and without delay, to address the severe economic and social problem being faced by the affected communities in the current situation. LWSI prepared a project proposal for rehabilitation and development to Normisjon in 2003. Normisjon further approached NORAD for support. From 2004 a 5 year project was approved by support from Normisjon and NORAD with an Annual budget of approximately 150 000 USD.