Restoration of local economic cycles and conflict transformation in the Fizi region
Title: Restoration of local economic cycles and conflict transformation in the Fizi region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lead executing agency: South Kivu governorate
Overall term: 2011 to 2014
There have been conflicts over natural resources in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for many years. Armed conflicts between economic competitors, ethnic groups and rival militias have profoundly destabilised the region. Hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced not only within the region but also in their own country.
Under difficult conditions, this project promotes a transition from humanitarian aid to sustainable development.
In Fizi Territory, local economic cycles and basic services have been restored. The conditions have been created for securing livelihoods and food on a sustainable basis.
The local administration has received training in the planning, organisation and implementation of community development activities and has been assisted with transport and communications. The administrative buildings have been renovated in cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a partnership programme (BMZ-UNHCR).
Many families have been unable to work on the land and produce food for a long time. Thus, nearly 25,000 families received agricultural equipment and improved seed with assistance from the government’s agricultural extension service. More than 200 young people have received training to become joiners, mechanics and masons in order to meet the great demand for skilled workers.
The administration and traditional authorities have learnt how one’s actions can prevent and reduce conflicts. They have been supported in transforming conflicts through better trained village committees and through a number of new village committees.
Women bear the main burden of work in the home and in the fields. They are frequently the victims of sexual violence and are particularly at risk in the fields, which are often remote. Women’s organisational and management skills have been promoted in civil society groups to strengthen the role of women and to make them more self-confident within their families and in local decision-making structures. In discussions on the subject, the male village population and local authorities are also sensitised to the subject of improving the division of labour within the family. This gives women better protection and the opportunity to earn an income of their own.
Results achieved so far
The local authority’s renovated office buildings have rapidly developed into centres of communication between the government and civil society. For the first time in many years, civil structures are once again the focus of social life and fulfil visible tasks for the people. Since then, there has been increasing private investment.
Today, the reactivated local services once again advise farming families on questions of modern cultivation. The excess produce can be sold at local markets, providing the families with an additional source of income.
Simple hand-built earth roads now link previously isolated mountain areas with the markets on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.
The village committees that have been supported or newly founded by the project arbitrate in cases of conflict in the villages (usually over land rights) or pass on more difficult cases to the judiciary.
It was decided together with traditional authorities to revise and modernise traditional law and align it with national law. This is now being implemented in cooperation with judges and lawyers.