United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
USAID/OTI's goal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is to enhance the informed participation of Congolese society in political and economic decision-making processes that contribute to a peaceful, unified, and democratic country. USAID/OTI is supporting the following activities to achieve this goal.
Radio Okapi: DRC National Radio Initiative - OTI supports Fondation Hirondelle in their collaborative effort with the United Nation's Mission in the Congo (MONUC) to enhance coverage of their 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, Kikongo) radio programs disseminate information about humanitarian assistance, the peace process, and disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and resettlement (DDRRR). Within the context of Radio Okapi, OTI is supporting a trained radio producer, through Search for Common Ground, to develop objective programming to support the DDRRR phase of the peace process in KinyaRwandan.
Congo en Action pour la Paix (CAP): Small Grants Initiative - Through OTI's implementing partner, CARE, CAP provides grants that encourage support for the Lusaka Peace Accords and agreements of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. OTI-sponsored activities enhance civil society's outreach and participation in the peace process, develops skills needed for advocacy, and connect like-minded groups and organizations throughout the country. By supporting the peace process, this initiative promotes stability and plays an important role in the reunification of the DRC.
Violations of the peace agreement signed in Pretoria on December 17, 2002 between the Government, rebel movements, civil society and unarmed opposition continue. Renewed clashes in North-West Ituri between Roger Lumbala's Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie Nationale (RCD-N), backed by Jean Pierre Bemba's Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC), and Mbusa Nyamwisi's Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie - Mouvement de Liberation (RCD-ML), backed by the Government of Kinshasa are responsible for the violations. Additionally, in the RCD/Goma controlled east, clashes continue between the RCD/Goma army and the Maï-Maï militia. As a result of these clashes, more than 155,000 civilians have been displaced.
Economic Progress - Kimberley Process
To allow participation in the Kimberley Process, an international diamond certification regime that has been adopted by 52 countries, the Government of the DRC installed a program to authenticate diamonds. This program is aimed at preventing the selling of diamond originating from armed conflict zones.
Fondation Hirondelle: Radio Okapi
On January 2, the Radio Okapi FM relay station in Butembo was launched. Broadcasting on 92.9 FM, Radio Okapi/Butembo can be heard throughout the region of Ituri, including Lubero, the site of the MONUC DDRRR reception center.
In South-Kivu, the launch of Radio Okapi's broadcasting in Bukavu coincided with the RCD's forced closure of the semi-independent Radio Maendeleo, which had been the population's primary source of independent media. Okapi's 98.6 FM frequency covers up to 100 kilometers to the north and east, and nearly 75 km to the south and west. Radio Okapi/Bukavu sends Kinshasa at least one local story a day in five languages to contribute to the national Okapi news center. Because Bukavu is at the center of MONUC's DDRRR activities, Okapi/Bukavu's primary objective is to facilitate the return of ex-combatants to Rwanda.
Radio Okapi/Kindu has improved the quality of its audio transmission and is now linked to the broader network through a satellite link from Kinshasa. Programs heard in Kindu are currently broadcast regionally on an FM-quality signal, instead of through the telephone quality signal that has been used previously.
Radio Okapi's new studio in Kisangani recently began broadcasting from a new location in the center of the city. This new location provides easy access to the local population who used to have to travel to the station located in the outskirts of the city. Radio Okapi Kisangani has also increased its transmitter power from 300w to 1kw to provide better coverage to the surrounding areas.
Radio Okapi/Goma received new equipment to replace the emergency equipment that was installed after the eruption of the Nyiragongo Volcano last year. As with Kisangani, Goma's transmitter strength was increased from 300w to 1kw, giving greater coverage of the Goma-Gisenyi-north Kivu region.
Radio Okapi maintains a web site which can be accessed at: http://www.monuc.org/radio/.
Small Grant's Initiative: Congo en Actíon pour la Paix (CAP)
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Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration and Resettlement (DDRRR)
The "GUTAHUKA" Okapi program crew visited ex-combatants who recently graduated from the Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration Camp and returned home to various provinces of Rwanda. The four-day tour consisted of visits to Kibuye, Kibungo, Gikongoro and Ruhengeri provinces with the full cooperation of the liaison office of MONUC in Kigali and the Demobilization and Reintegration Commission of Rwanda. In each province, ex-combatants were given the opportunity to extend greetings to their colleagues who are still in the forests of the DRC to encourage them to demobilize.
The primary objectives of the visit were:
- To survey reactions of the local population towards the return and reintegrated ex-combatants in communities.
- To discuss ex-combatant's sense of security, reaction of the population towards return
- To gauge the mood of the new arrivals at the Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration camp in Ruhengeri province.
The Okapi team visited the home of an ex-combatant, Frederic Ibyikora, whose mother thanked MONUC for ensuring the safe return of her son from the DRC and expressed her appreciation for the humanitarian work of MONUC. Mr. Ibyikora, one of six ex-combatants interviewed in this province, noted, "I am now living happily and would wish for others who have not yet decided to [demobilize] to do so."
In Kibungo, mothers joyfully celebrated the return of sons who had fought for the FDLR in the DRC. The community and family members expressed happiness for the reintegration of the ex-combatants to their home. The team interviewed Habimana Joseph (Hutu) and his Tutsi colleague. The two men were rivals during the war but have reconciled with each other and are once again good friends. The former Rwandan Defense Force soldier stated, "We did not know we were fighting each other until we began discussing our previous war history." Both men were happy to continue their farming activities.
The Okapi team's arrival in the town of Gikongoro coincided with the Demobilization and Reintegration Commission's facilitation of a meeting to discuss the welfare of over 200 ex-combatants. Approximately 30 ex-combatants were interviewed.
Ruhengeri province hosts the Mutobo camp where ex-combatants disarmed, demobilized, and repatriated by MONUC are brought. The team interviewed approximately 25 ex-combatants, as well as the head of the National Demobilization commission in that area, Nkaka Jean. Nkaka explained that the land redistribution scheme, which should incorporate the needs of ex-combatants, was already in place.
Ex-combatants interviewed at the Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration Camp in Ruhengeri confirmed that part of why they came out of hiding was due the information received from Okapi's DDRRR program GUTAHUKA.
OTI/Washington Field Visit
From January 14 to 25, David Taylor, OTI Director, and Angela Martin, Africa Team Leader, from OTI Washington visited DRC traveling to Kinshasa, Kisangani, Bukavu, Kindu, Goma and Butembo.
Some reflections from the team are as follows:
- OTI's early program focus on facilitating the reconnection of a complex, fragile and isolated civil society is timely and remains relevant.
- OTI's small grant program, empowering civil society partners to engage with and promote the fragile peace process has great potential. The biggest challenge will be to distinguish which partners can deliver and achieve the necessary impact to ensure that OTI meets its objectives.
- OTI's presence in the east provides a "golden" opportunity for advocacy. This opportunity will offer both Kinshasa and other key stakeholders with accurate and timely information on how the peace process is progressing on the ground.
NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES
- CAP offices scheduled to be opened in Kisangani and Bukavu.
- Kisangani and Bukavu CAP activities initiated.
- Further exploration of programming options in Kindu, Butembo and Kasongo.
- Hiring of OTI program staffers for field offices.
For further information, please contact:
In the DRC: Kury Cobham, Country Representative, e-mail: email@example.com; telephone: ++243 990 9936.
In Washington, D.C.: Patrick Wingate, Program Manager, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; telephone: (202) 712-0827.