In the Ruzizi plain, South Kivu province, a hundred women and young people have benefited, for two and a half years, from a project intended to restore social cohesion between communities in conflict and local authorities, through a pro-peaceful solutions mechanism implemented in a concerted and participatory manner. In particular, the project has enabled women to regain a place of choice in their communities.
Named in Swahili "Tujenge pamoja kwa ajili yaa amani", in English "Let's work together for peace", this project received a permanent technical support from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). It was executed by a consortium of non-governmental organizations, led by the NGO Alert International.
The Gender pillar is one of the successful areas of the project. Joséphine Mulogoto, leader of the civil society organizations from the Kamanyola grouping, a traditional entity where women do not have the right to speak in the presence of men, testifies: "In our entity, for example, 57 women were appointed as heads of avenues by the group leader through the advocacy and awareness-raising actions of this project. We are gradually materializing our aspiration to take up leadership role with the help of the Tujenge pamoja kwa ajili ya amani project", she acknowledged.
Like in Kamanyola, the Bafuliiru chiefdom, in Uvira territory also have seen for the first time, through this project, the appointment by the great traditional chief, of three women in the administrative positions to run the chiefdom. One of them was even elevated to the rank of chief of the big local market Rubanga, situated in the middle plateaus of the Lemera grouping. "Each week, I participate in the security meetings held by the Lemera chiefdom council in the same capacity as men, with my other companions. Anyway, this is somehow an important achievement," she said.
A hundred young people from different communities of the Ruzizi plain also benefited from this project, through the establishment of economic cooperatives. In the past, these young people were rather mobilized against the traditional power of the local chiefdom. "Some of us deal in the rice sector. Others make bricks. Others among us have received mills as part of income-generating activities through this project", said Byamungu Maliyamutu, 29 years old, further indicating, "Next month, if you happened to come by, you will have locally processed fresh milk. I have already started selling the milk to travelers who come on buses from Bukavu or Uvira-city. "
This project has been funded to the tune of seven million US dollars by the "Stabilization Coherence Fund", represented within MONUSCO by the United Nations Stabilization Support Unit (USS).
"Our job, as MONUSCO, was to support the Congolese state through the STAREC (Stabilization and Reconstruction Program) of the provincial Ministry of Planning in South Kivu. We have helped reconcile the various points of view from the different actors; we have helped defuse tensions wherever necessary though our good offices and advocacy up to the top level of the Congolese Government", specified Ganda Abdourahamane , head of MONUSCO sub-office in Uvira.
Despite this success, there are still challenges to overcome in this local context and with regard to the sub-regional dimension of the inter-communal conflict marked by the presence of foreign armed groups in the area. On top of the above challenge, there is also the fact that it is an isolated area.
"We are aware of the current problems. However, we believe, it would be important to keep this project up and running for stabilization would require several years' investments. A change of people's mindset cannot be secured overnight," said Christine Buesser, director of Alert International in Goma, North Kivu.