Insecure livelihoods series

Introducing the Insecure Livelihoods project

 If we can draw one overarching conclusion from violent conflict in eastern Congo, it is the growing disconnect between the existing international conflict response toolkit and the complexity of violent conflict on the ground.

The struggles for power over people, territory, and resources in the DRC take place at different scales (local, national, regional, international) and cut across diverse social and political networks. They often turn violent and their outcomes are often unpredictable, making insecurity and uncertainty central characteristics of eastern Congo’s political and social landscape.

Consequently, one-size-fits-all approaches to conflict resolution and management are unlikely to work. The overwhelming yet under-addressed need to manage conflict complexity, including transnational dynamics and the proliferation of non-state actors in conflict, is at the core of current policy debates about types and ranges of interventions by international and regional organizations and has particular relevance for stabilisation efforts in the DRC.

Driven by the aim to bridge this gap, the Insecure Livelihoods Series publishes independent, regular and field-driven information and analysis on the complexity of conflict and security. The Insecure Livelihoods reports are based on independent, non-partisan collaborative research and co-published by the Governance in Conflict Network (GIC), Conflict Research Group (CRG, Ghent)) and the Groupe d’Etudes sur les Conflits et la Sécurité Humaine (GEC-SH, Bukavu).

Using a socio-anthropological approach to violent conflict, the Insecure Livelihoods Series start from the recognition that the causes of violent conflict are to be located in numerous interconnected socio-cultural, economic, and political factors, and is designed to capture this complexity. The project focuses on the strategies employed by actors who possess the capacity to mobilise social groups around political and socio-economic issues and who may thus function as either driving or mitigating actors of conflict.  The series  recognises that in eastern Congo, conflict and violence are often linked to the competition between different power networks. over resources, territory and political authority. A key characteristic of these networks – as is the case with the networks of the Congo wars – is that they are unstable, changing, and constantly adapting and multi-scalar in essence. The Insecure Livelihoods Series therefore acknowledges that while violent conflicts are often localised, they are closely linked to national, regional, and international dynamics.

the reports

The “Balkanization” of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Taking a historical and ethnographic perspective, this study looks at the longue durée of the phenomenon. It demonstrates that each time the country goes through political crisis, the spectre of “balkanization” rises anew: the 1960s secessions, the war context of the 1990s and 2000s, and the recent resurgence of the M23 rebellion. The protagonists of the debate denounce a conspiracy supported by an international community that would use Rwanda to partition the DRC, while others deplore Kinshasa’s inability to drive the country’s development as a whole and believe that there is a need for a different approach, which would be either federalism or balkanization. However, it appears that despite strident discussions balkanization seems not to be an alternative for the majority of Congolese, even though many fear invasions by Rwanda or other foreign forces. Therefore, the debate remains open.

La « Balkanisation » de la République Démocratique du Congo

Ce rapport discute d’abord du concept de balkanisation et de ses applications à la République Démocratique du Congo. Ensuite, il inscrit le discours autour d’un potentiel démembrement de la RDC dans une perspective historique. Enfin, il propose une explication à la survivance, au fil du temps, des tendances séparatistes en RDC. Ce rapport inscrit ce débat sur la longue durée. Il a donc été utile de compulser la littérature disponible et de procéder à une recherche de terrain dans une perspective ethnographique.

Vacuum Governance in Eastern DRC

This report investigates the social and security dynamics in Shabunda territory (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Located in westernmost South Kivu province and bordering Maniema province, Shabunda is an isolated,
enclaved region that has known high levels of insecurity consequent to the activities of residual armed groups known collectively as the Raia Mutomboki.

Un « vase clos » à l’Est de la République Démocratique du Congo

Ce rapport est consacré à l’analyse des dynamiques sociales et sécuritaires dans le territoire de Shabunda au Sud-Kivu (RD Congo). Située dans l’extrême ouest de la province, à la lisière de la province du Maniema, Shabunda est une région enclavée en proie à l’insécurité perpétrée par des groupes armés résiduels issus des milices Raïa Mutomboki.

Les ONGs vues par le bas

De nombreuses Organisations Non-Gouvernementales (ONGs) œuvrent pour répondre aux crises multiformes dans l’Afrique des Grands Lacs. Ce rapport analyse les représentations communautaires quant aux actions de ces acteurs à l’Est de la RDC, dans les territoires de Kalehe et Uvira (Plaine de la Ruzizi), deux zones caractérisées par la forte présence d’organisations dans les secteurs de l’humanitaire, du développement et de la promotion de paix.

Le passé dans le présent

Le présent rapport analyse l’interaction entre les problèmes d’identité ethnique, la politique et les conflits dans l’est de la RDC, plus particulièrement dans le territoire de Kalehe et sur l’île d’Idjwi, dans la province du Sud-Kivu. Il démontre que ces liens sont ancrés dans des processus historiques à long terme.

The Past in the Present

Since colonization and throughout the independence period, ethnic iden- tity has played a major role in the politics and conflicts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This report investigates how issues of ethnic identity intersect with politics and conflicts in eastern Congo, and particularly Kalehe territory and on Idjwi Island, South Kivu Province.

Politique violente et commerce silencieux

Ce rapport analyse les dynamiques de la coutume, la contrebande et la rébellion qui s’entrecroisent dans le territoire de Lubero en province du Nord-Kivu, dans l’est de la RDC. Le rapport explore les différentes émanations du pouvoir politique et économique dans une région souvent considérée comme non gouvernée et périphérique, par le biais de la gouvernance locale, la mobilisation armée et le commerce transnational des ressources.

Violent Politics and Silent Trade

This study offers an analysis of the intersecting dynamics of custom, contra- band and rebellion that mark Lubero territory in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province. Through the angles of local governance, armed mobilization and transnational resource trade, the report looks at different emanations of political and economic power in a region often considered ungoverned and peripheral.