Democratic Republic of Congo

1997 - 2001

WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN DRC

Following the overthrow of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997, USAID/OTI conducted a comprehensive assessment of the prospects for democratic transition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Finding strong enthusiasm for democratic reform and economic restructuring at the local level, USAID/OTI opened a DRC program focused on five politically important provinces where a new generation of leaders was attempting to introduce meaningful change. The program’s immediate objective was to address the soaring expectations of the population by engaging in community improvement projects that demonstrated positive change and brought civil society together with local government in a democratic and transparent process.

USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN DRC

USAID/OTI’s goal in DRC was to strengthen the peace process. To achieve this, USAID/OTI aimed to:

  • Back the office of the Inter-Congolese Dialogue Facilitator;
  • Support Congolese civil society’s efforts to lobby for peace in the region and adherence by all signatories to the Lusaka Peace Accords as well as its effective participation in the Inter-Congolese dialogue;
  • Assist civil society organizations and local government in overcoming critical obstacles to improved social conditions via transparent, participatory, multi-actor public-works initiatives; and
  • Prepare for the hand-off of USAID/OTI’s program to the Mission.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • A critical component of the Lusaka Peace Accords was a national dialogue to chart a peaceful transition to a democratically elected government. The former President of Botswana was named in late 1999 as the Facilitator for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. Using funding designated through the Great Lakes Justice Initiative, USAID/OTI supported the dialogue along with related activities to engage civil society in their country’s transformation.
  • In a highly symbolic event, USAID/OTI brought together civil society groups from across the country in October 1999 to meet with an umbrella organization, the Civil Society Campaign for a Lasting Peace, and the All-Africa Council of Churches. This marked the first time that large numbers of Congolese from the east were able to travel freely to Kinshasa, and a rare opportunity for the government and civil society to engage in a frank discussion of political issues.

2002 - 2007

WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN DRC

Due to continued conflict and transition dysfunction, Congo’s transitional government struggled to pacify or extend its authority across its territory.

USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN DRC

USAID/OTI sought to support the reintegration process of community members following long periods of violence and anarchy. The DRC program had originally been designed to reintegrate ex-combatants and war-affected youth into their home communities, but its focus shifted early on to the reintegration and reconciliation of all community members. USAID/OTI sought to achieve this goal by:

  • Supporting the reintegration process between war-affected youth and their host communities; and
  • Reinforcing local, provincial and national awareness in order to foster community participation on issues key to the transition process.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

  • Working at the national and local levels, USAID/OTI opened up long-isolated communities, reconnecting and implicating them in national political processes, such as voter registration and constitutional referendum. Many communities reported that reconnecting with the outside world, through the various modes offered by USAID/OTI, was the first real peace dividend they had experienced since the transition began in 2003.
  • USAID/OTI stabilized and invigorated war-torn communities through group trainings, labor-intensive, community-led rehabilitation projects, and radio listening clubs. In contrast to traditional disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programming, USAID/OTI’s community-focused reintegration approach allowed focus on entire communities, not the “peace spoilers” alone.
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Last updated: December 01, 2017

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