DRC Community debates

The situation in East Congo – North and South Kivu and Ituri in the Province Oriental – remains volatile. The security situation is very difficult due to constant power struggles between the Congolese army and various armed groups to get access to the natural resources (mines) of the region, and the influence of Rwanda and Uganda. This situation of chronic insecurity forces a lot of people to leave their communities and to become IDP’s – internally displaced people. The population has to cope with constant power struggles, violence, the abuse of human rights on all levels, and the presence of military and armed groups. This causes a lot of personal insecurity and trauma. The extreme isolation of some communities and lack of (good quality) information leaves the population prone to hate speech, rumours and manipulation. To counteract this, La Benevolencija set up a comprehensive project to support local radio stations and grass root groups in North and South Kivu and Ituri. The project that runs from October 2008 till October 2010 has been co-financed by FCI/DIFD (French and UK development agencies. This grass roots movement project provides a ‘pro active element’ of La Benevolencija’s behaviour change strategy in Congo DRC. This methodology was developed together with a group of activist grass roots groups following La Benevolencija’s ‘active bystander’ ideology.

In each of the participating communities a Community Alliance Group (NAC) has been set up. After a phase of preparation and training, each group received a small grant to set up community based activities for peace and reconciliation. Agricultural micro-projects, breeding projects, sport activities, music, folklore events and environmental actions have been financially sustained and followed up with technical support from the grassroots facilitators and coordinators. Next to these small projects, the NAC’s are continuing sensitization activities in their respective communities, with a special focus on youth, victims of violence, sexual abused women and their families. The gathered evidence by the communities showed a high level of integration of the messages aiming at social cohesion, peaceful cohabitation, and violence prevention in the conflict affected communities.

La Benevolencija’s Community Alliance Groups in the Kivu’s

North Kivu: Sake – Tuungane and Umoja; Minova – Imara and Ushirika; Ruthsuru – Tujenge Upya and Faida Yetu; Kiwanja – Faraja and Muungano

South Kivu: Uvira/ Makobola – Amani and Maendeleo ; Uvira/ Bwegera – Mapatano and Turudiliane; Baraka – Makilizano, Tupatane, Upendo and Urafiki