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La houe, la vache et le fusil Analyse réalisée
Conflits liés à la transhumance en territoires de Fizi et Uvira (Sud-Kivu, RDC) : État des lieux et leçons tirées de l’expérience de LPI
For over a decade, LPI has been active in peacebuilding in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in partnership with certain civil society organisations. Between 2008 and 2010, it supported a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project aimed at the transformation of intercommunity conflicts related to the activities of armed groups within the Uvira and Fizi territories in the South Kivu province, a process implemented by ADEPAE, RIO and Arche d’Alliance. The research has highlighted three interrelated phenomena which act as drivers of conflict: land issues, the support given by ethnic communities to armed groups and the weak local governance.
- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The editorial team: Loochi Muzaliwa - LPI, Robert Wangachuchu - LPI, Pieter Vanholder - LPI, Kitoka Moke Isaac - RIO, Shamavu Hamibanga Désiré - Groupe Jérémie
For over a decade, LPI has been active in peacebuilding in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in partnership with certain civil society organisations. Between 2008 and 2010, it supported a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project aimed at the transformation of intercommunity conflicts related to the activities of armed groups within the Uvira and Fizi territories in the South Kivu province, a process implemented by ADEPAE, RIO and Arche d’Alliance. The research has highlighted three interrelated phenomena which act as drivers of conflict: land issues, the support given by ethnic communities to armed groups and the weak local governance. The first cycle of the PAR, the results of which were published in Au-delà des groupes armés (1), was completed by an intercommunity dialogue held in Bukavu in March 2010.
The second part of the PAR was launched in the aftermath of this dialogue with the establishment of community structures for conflict transformation: the intercommunity dialogue groups and the joint committees for conflict resolution. These structures aim to bring the communities together and plan the future peacebuilding activities. The major conflict on which they have focused their initial efforts is that between agriculturalists and pastoralists during bovine transhumance. In addition to the altercations sometimes occurring between pastoralists and agriculturalists in connection with the destruction of some of the crops by the cattle, transhumance can also act as a source of conflict, since it lies at the heart of a major issue, namely access to and control of land. The regulation of this issue is important in order to address the associated problems, but it is just as crucial as an instrument of peacebuilding.
The conflicts connected with transhumance are rooted in the symbolism of the peasant societies of the Great Lakes region, in particular in the symbols of the hoe and the cow, to which the gun brings an additional dimension. The hoe is a tool common to all agricultural communities. It symbolises the hard work in the fields upon which the vast majority of the population rely for survival. It also symbolises, in the present context, the space needed for small family farming. As for the cow, which provides life-sustaining milk, it is the ultimate symbol of life in pastoral communities. It is a symbol of wealth and economic success, as well as a valuable savings instrument. The cow, in this book, also refers to the space necessary for breeding. As soon as the identities of the different communities are based on agricultural and pastoral activities, access to and control over land cease to be simple issues of separating crops and pastures: they become an issue of cohabitation between ethnic communities.
This cohabitation was, in principle, historically regulated by traditional institutions, through a tenure system uniting land applicants and land managers. These institutions functioned relatively well until the appearance of the gun within village communities. Although the firearm is an instrument of power, hunting and territorial defence, its proliferation in the eastern DRC has played a part in undermining the traditional means of regulating the relationship between farmers and herders. It serves to prevent herders from accessing pastures, as well as makes it possible for them to forcibly gain access to pasture. The gun is, in this context, a symbol of negation of the other.
How were the local communities thrown into this vicious circle? In order to understand how this type of violence was introduced into this peasant society, one must place the Fizi and Uvira territories within the context of crisis in the Great Lakes Region. In fact, since the early 1990s, this part of South Kivu has sometimes been utilised as a home base for the rebellions within neighbouring countries, namely Rwanda and Burundi, and has also been invaded by their armies. It was in this area that the coalition known as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire started the war which put an end to the 32-year-long reign of President Mobutu Sese Seko.
The national armed groups defending, or perceiving themselves to be defending, the interests of their respective communities are part of the national and regional dynamics. They also had access to cheap small arms which exacerbated the transhumance conflicts and added a new dimension to on-going conflicts related to the competition between ethnic communities for economic resources (land) and political assets (customary power and public administration). If this competition cannot be regulated by the public authorities, it must be managed through a social contract between the local stakeholders. It is the implementation of such a social contract that LPI and its local partners are fighting for.
To reflect upon such a contract is also one of the objectives of the authors of this book. Justine Brabant, then a student at the Institute of Political Studies in Lille, arrived in South Kivu in January 2012 in order to work as a researchertrainee at the LPI programme in the DRC. She chose at an early stage to document the transhumance related conflicts, of which she gives a complete understanding in the first part of the book. Jean-Louis Kambale Nzweve has been a technical advisor at LPI in charge of monitoring and evaluating the conflict transformation projects implemented by its partners.(2)
While thanking the authors for their joint work, LPI wishes also, and above all, to thank the Swedish Agency for International Development, and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Public Service in Belgium, both major donors to LPI and thanks to whom the preparation and publication of this book has been made possible. The book has been enriched by routine meetings and professional discussions within the programme staff of LPI in the DRC. Many thanks are due to Loochi Muzaliwa, programme director, and Robert Wangachumo, technical advisor, who had the kindness to read the manuscripts under preparation. Two external critics have kindly given their much appreciated advice: Professor Moke Kitoka of the Evangelical University in Africa and Mr. Désiré Shamavu from the Jeremiah Group.
Finally, by presenting The hoe, the cow and the gun to the general public, the LPI programme in the DRC provides a precious contribution to a very ambitious undertaking, a cross-fertilisation between theory and practice in the realm of peacebuilding. It is a testimony from the ground level that other practitioners may compare with their own experiences. The theorists may also profit from it, in order to advance the science of community peacebuilding.