Introducing the DRC programme 

LPI’s programme in DRC has its main office in Bukavu, DRC and has recently opened liaison offices in the capital, Kinshasa, as well as in Goma and Uvira. Building upon15 years of experience in the region, LPI supports and works with Congolese peacebuilding civil society partners in Bukavu. LPI and its partners’ work in DRC relies primarily, but not solely, on Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodologies in which the communities that are part of and affected by a given conflict engage in the identification of the underlying issues of a conflict and work together with others to resolve their differences non-violently and build constructive relationships.

Rationale

LPI launched its DRC programme in 2002 in response to a comprehensive analysis of the situation in DRC, conducted by LPI at the request of Sida. The programmatic approach and theory emerged out of the realization that while conflicts in eastern DRC occur at different levels (from the local to the national, regional and international), peacebuilding responses focused on the national and sometimes regional aspects of the situation in DRC, while neglecting the local nature of the conflicts in DRC.

LPI and its partners therefore work to transform local conflicts that are often centred around land, identity and power at the community level. LPI and its partners promote interethnic community dialogues, support existing platforms or help communities to establish new formal and informal structures that allow for non-violent transformation of conflicts among communities.

Further, the programme also utilizes advocacy and policy engagement at different levels in order to complement its bottom-up peacebuilding work and address the structural problems behind the violence. 

What we do

By supporting civil society organizations, influencing key political decision makers to support non-violent conflict transformation (CT), and through continuous reflective learning about conditions for success, LPI and partners aspire to contribute to constructive conflict transformation in the Kivu provinces.

In order to realize this vision, LPI DRC’s has adopted two approaches:

Civil society support and engagement
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Congolese civil society organisations (CSOs) constitute legitimate and ideal structures able to work for sustainable and in depth CT with local conflict actors. LPI DRC provides support to CSOs in their programme implementation, administration, finances and general organisational development in order for them to become professional centres for CT. By providing training and close accompaniment, LPI ensures that these partners have increased capacity to implement complex, multi-level CT initiatives.

A possible effect of the work that LPI does with these partners will be the emergence of new actors involved in conflict transformation at the local level. The permanent peace committees that were put in place as a follow up to the Participatory Action Research focusing on the Rastas Armes Group in 2008 and 2009, together with LPI’s partner UPDI, was a first example of such local initiatives. Click here for more examples

Policy work and awareness-raising

Many peacebuilding initiatives carried out in eastern Congo are top-down and remain uninformed about realities on the ground. Thus, they risk only attending to the immediate effects of the conflicts rather than creating solutions that address locally identified root causes.

Through well-informed analysis, LPI and its partners carry out awareness raising on conflicts within the local context. LPI’s CSO partners are very well positioned to provide international, national and local policy-makers a more comprehensive understanding of the conflicts and their dynamics, enabling policy-makers to take more informed decisions.

While the policy activities at the international level will mainly be carried out via LPI’s Uppsala office, LPI’s DRC programme carries out advocacy targeting political actors at the provincial, national and international levels through its local partners in DRC.

  • In 2013  Great Lakes Policy Forum in Washington DC to advocate for the need to broaden the scope of international focus beyond neutralising M23
  • In 2014 civil society consultations with the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General to the Great Lakes region Mary Robinson  in Addis Ababa, Goma and the Hague
  • LPI and partners influenced the language and approach of the UN’s new ISSSS (I4S) programme
  • Meetings between LPI, its partner APC, local administration, and customary chiefs resulted in a first proposal for a ‘Customary Land Title’, in the Kalehe territory in South Kivu.
  • Intense policy work by local intercommunity structures, supported by LPI through partners RIO and Adepae
  • LPI, through its partner ASP, recently created the Policy Group for Peace in Masisi, composed of Kinshasa-based parliamentarians

In both of its approaches (support to civil society and policy engagement), LPI emphasizes and promotes cross-fertilization between the theory and practice of conflict transformation. It conducts timely and quality analysis of the context in Bukavu, DRC, the region as a whole and even the international environment with regards to conflicts in DRC.

LPI practices reflexive peacebuilding in which it documents lessons learned from LPI and its partners’ PAR processes both to improve its programming and to feed back its experiences to the theory of conflict transformation. The programme also explores strategic partnerships with universities and independent research centres for this purpose.

Success stories

  • LPI collaborated with Search for Common Ground to organise a session of the ‘Great Lakes Policy Forum’ at Johns Hopkins University during which LPI presented evidenced-based policy options for eastern DRC
  • LPI produced a book on the phenomenon of transhumance in South Kivu and a research report on land conflict in Masisi territory.
  • LPI’s partners, RIO and Adepae, continue to work, together with local intercommunity structures, towards a more peaceful and better structured seasonal cattle migration in Southern South Kivu, a yearly returning source of conflict.
  • LPI’s partner APC with technical and financial support from LPI, continues to work towards a consensus in a group that brings together local state authorities and traditional chiefs on customary land tenure in the context of Kalehe. The group was able to establish a model for “land certificates” that could in the future serve as a para-legal right to a parcel of customary land.
  • Coming soon: A new context analysis on cross-border aspects of conflicts in DRC, focusing on the dynamics between South Kivu and Burundi, will be launched in the second half of 2014, in partnership with REMA and Adepae.
  • Coming soon: LPI DRC’s contribution to a book chapter in an upcoming publication by Lederach and Laura Taylor on PAR in which LPI will share experiences it work in Southern South Kivu.

How you can participate

  • Read, comment on, and share our publications
  • Contact us with your lessons learned on similar initiatives
  • Become an intern at LPI’s DRC programme
  • Support the programme