USAID Field Report Democratic Republic of Congo Sep 2002
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
Program Goals and Objectives
USAID/OTI's goal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is to support the country's transition from war to peace and lay the groundwork for an eventual transition to democracy and the country's reunification. Isolation of key population centers has constrained civil society's role in this transition. To alleviate this constraint, OTI is developing and implementing a national, multi-faceted, communication strategy that fosters exchanges across the country focusing on dialogue, conflict prevention, and engaging the Congolese in debates of national importance.
USAID/OTI is supporting the following activities to achieve this goal:
Radio Okapi: DRC National Radio Initiative
OTI supports Fondation Hirondelle and the United Nation's Mission in the Congo (MONUC) to enhance coverage of their recently established national radio initiative, Radio Okapi. This component of OTI's program expands Radio Okapi's broadcast capability to ten locations (adding Bunia and Bukavu) instead of the eight original broadcast sites, and adds four new relay stations (Lubumbashi, Mbuji Mayi, Butembo and Manono) to assure continuous, all day short wave and FM broadcasts. The station's local language (Lingala, Swahili, Tshiluba and Kikongo) radio programs will disseminate information about humanitarian assistance, the peace process, and demobilization and reintegration, while engaging Congolese countrywide in debates of national importance.
Small Grants Initiative
Through OTI's implementing partner CARE, this initiative will provide grants that encourage support for the Lusaka Peace Accords and the agreements of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. OTI-sponsored activities will enhance civil society's outreach and participation in the peace process, develop skills needed for advocacy, and connect like-minded groups and organizations throughout the country and the diaspora. By supporting the peace process, this initiative will promote stability and will play an important role in the reunification of the DRC.
Rwanda proceeded with the withdrawal of its troops from Northern Katanga and Maniema Province. To date, more than 10,233 soldiers have been recalled to Rwanda, however, numerous sources claim the discreet re-entry of Rwandan troops to South Kivu. Also, reports from the east note that violations against civilians are being committed, thus increasing insecurity in the region.
In September, the DRC Government encouraged the repatriation of Rwandan Interhamwe Hutu militias. With the support of MONUC, eighty members (including ten women and three children) of this faction were flown to Kigali to assess acceptance of their reintegration back to Rwanda.
During a recent press conference, an official of the Ugandan People's Defense Force (UPDF) stated that Uganda has withdrawn 2,287 soldiers from DRC, mainly from Gbadolite and Beni. These regions are frequently overwhelmed by ethnic confrontations between the Hema and Lendu. Further steps have been taken regarding the formation of a joint committee composed of Ugandan and Congolese experts and civil society representatives that would ensure peace along the DRC/Ugandan border.
Armed forces from the South Africa Development Community (SADC) are completing the withdrawal of their troops from Equator Province. While Namibia has no more troops in the country, Zimbabwe and Angola maintain a small number of soldiers. More recently, South Africa (SA) has committed 1,500 supplementary soldiers to MONUC, and France has committed financial and logistical support.
Inter Congolese Dialogue
Delegates are gathering in South Africa to pursue an all-inclusive, global dialogue. President Kabila has been advocating for the reopening of negotiations, which in turn could lead to a united DRC Government.
DRC obtained a foreign debt cancellation of approximately 4 billion USD. This decision will ensure the government's focus on priority transitional and development activities within the country.
Fondation Hirondelle: Radio Okapi
Radio Okapi's short-wave transmitter station was completed. The station's signal is expected to cover the entire country and beyond on three frequencies.
September marked the launch of "Okapi Dedicaces" program. This daily program is produced and presented by Mbuyi Mbwebwe and plays music dedicated to Congolese living on all sides of the war. Congolese submit messages to Radio Okapi studios throughout the country in order to renew contact with family and friends with whom they may have lost contact during the war. The program runs live at 15h00 Monday through Friday, and is repeated the following morning at 10h00 throughout the country.
An additional program, "Dialogue Entre Congolais" (Dialogue between Congolese), was restructured to include more contributions from various regions. Producer Vianney Missumbi travels to these regions and utilizes recorded feed from regional producers in order to widen the dialogue between Congolese on the air.
News flashes were added to the daily line-up to increase the amount of spoken word on the air and to give listeners an opportunity at mid morning and mid afternoon to be updated on the main news stories being followed in the DR Congo.
"Okapi Reportage" (Okapi Report) was added to the program line-up. This program is produced and presented by Nicole Ngaka, and is an in-depth report focusing on and rotating among the ten provinces. The report covers current affairs topics with a particular focus on the human-interest angle.
Further staff support was enhanced with the arrival of Harald Goerg, Radio Okapi's new Program Manager, who will coordinate an expansion of the information program schedule. Fondation Hirondelle is holding a one-month training workshop for producers of Radio Okapi programs to increase the quality of programming.
Radio Okapi also maintains a web site, which has been functional since the middle of the year. Interested parties can listen to programs by clicking on the following web site link for prior programming: http://www.monuc.org/radio/.
Small Grant's Initiative
OTI finalized a 6 million USD cooperative agreement with CARE in mid-September. As CARE Atlanta continued the process of identifying a staff member to manage this two year agreement, CARE/DRC, together with OTI/DRC, moved forward in the development of program concepts and grant procedures in support of this initiative. CARE/DRC conducted trips to the East to assess the viability of a CARE/OTI presence in Kisangani and Bukavu, with logistical support from Goma. CARE has also identified potential program interventions and potential partners in the region.
Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration and Resettlement (DDRRR)
Search for Common Ground (SfCG)/Centre Lokole has identified Sam Howard, former SfCG/Liberia Talking Drum Studios radio producer, as the DDRRR radio producer to be seconded to MONUC'S DDRRR Unit and Radio Okapi. Mr. Howard's primary role is the production and distribution of programs related to the DDRRR. Mr. Howard will also encourage stronger linkages between the Congolese people and the DDRRR process. Mr. Howard is expected to arrive in the DRC in mid-October.
NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES
- Small Grants Initiative schedule to
issue its first grant in mid-October.
- Radio Okapi launches in Bukavu first
part of October.
- OTI staff will participate in Mission-wide
Strategic planning exercise from 21 - 25 October.
- DDRRR Radio Producer, Sam Howard, arrives
in DRC mid-October.
- Preparations for Eastern Congo trip
from 28 October - 1 November.
- Preparations for OTI Strategic Planning sessions from 2 - 9 November.
In the DRC: Kury Cobham, Country
Representative, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: ++243 990 9936
In Washington, D.C.: Patrick Wingate, Program Manager, e-mail: email@example.com; telephone: (202) 712-0827.