Supporting Innovative Stabilization Efforts in Eastern DR Congo
In the midst of the daunting peace and security challenges in parts of Eastern Congo, the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) has supported stabilization efforts through two projects in Kalehe (South Kivu) and Mambasa (Ituri) since 2015. Initial results are promising and have paved the way for a second phase as well as for three more stabilization packages to be launched in the East through the multi-donor Stabilization Coherence Trust Fund.
For nearly two decades, both Kalehe and Mambasa have been affected by heavy conflicts. The Kalehe territory has become the epicenter of heavy land and power conflicts, aggravated by the weak presence and authority of state representatives. Mambasa territory was also marked by countless conflicts after the creation of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in 1992. This Reserve contains, besides unique wildlife species, a significant amount of natural resources, which has caused excessive violence, instability and political manipulation. Due to the local security dilemmas, the Congolese government could not protect and prevent the reserve and its surroundings from illicit exploitation and destructive activities of armed groups.
Support to stabilization
Between December 2014 and August 2016, the PBF supported two stabilization projects in Kalehe and Mambasa following the preparation by the provincial governments of the respective provincial stabilization strategies and action plans. The projects had a total budget of 8.3 million USD, with one project co-financed with Norway. The projects were implemented by UNDP, UN Habitat, IOM, and also FAO and UNESCO in the case of Mambasa, along with their local NGO partners.
“In a conflict area such as Kalehe, stabilization efforts are very important as they help to maintain security and to create an inclusive environment that allows all actors to participate in development initiatives. The innovative approach of the ISSSS and the in-depth conflict analyses helped to better understand the issues in the priority zone and to better plan the actions to be developed.” (Minister of Planning, South Kivu)
The two stabilization projects were developed and coordinated under the banner of the International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (ISSSS), which was developed in support to the National Stabilization and Reconstruction Program (STAREC), and is coordinated by the Stabilization Support Unit of the UN Peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) in the DR Congo.
The projects have been innovative in enabling an integrated, holistic and targeted stabilization approach which aims to tackle the deeper root causes of conflict by focusing on the contextual understanding of communities affected by conflict. This is in contrast to previous stabilization interventions which were mainly technical (such as the construction of buildings) and did not respond adequately to complex political problems. The projects addressed multi-sectorial and multidimensional challenges and mobilized the communities and the state around a common framework to address key drivers of conflict and improve conditions for longer term development. This political dimension has led to high-level engagement and support of Congolese authorities with regard to the planning, development and implementation of stabilization programs, as evidenced by the validation of compacts with provincial authorities containing strategic commitments from the authorities, which will contribute to increased sustainability of future stabilization interventions.
“The projects illustrate that it is possible to create a framework that is both top-down and bottom-up enabling mutual accountability and capacity to address the drivers of conflict while laying the foundations for improved governance and longer term development.” (MONUSCO DSRSG/RC/HC Dr. Mamadou Diallo)
Both projects supported three of the five pillars of the ISSSS, with the following key objectives: peaceful conflict resolution through tailored dialogue processes that contributes to the foundation of stable institutions and the consolidation of peace; restoring state authority and trust between state institutions and the local population; and revitalizing the resilience and economy of local populations.
Conflict resolution through dialogue
As part of the dialogue activities, inclusive and participative discussion sessions were held in both project locations to raise awareness and sensitize the participants on various thematic issues related to conflict dynamics, governance, and conflict management.