Many people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo know nothing but a life afflicted by armed conflict and threats to their lives. The KfW Peace Fund is helping to build up a functioning civil society, offering alternatives to combat and crime.
In many Congolese regions, the civil population is suffering bitterly from fighting between government troops and various rebel militias. It is almost impossible to live in peace. In the eastern provinces like North Kivu for example, the rebels of the armed group M23 are active. Violent conflicts shape everyday life in the second largest country of Africa.
More than two million people flee from one crisis region to the next, and repeatedly have to start all over again. The situation remains difficult and unpredictable, with no prospects for the future. By necessity, many Congolese slip into crime, work illegally in mines or join one of the rebel groups.
Schools, roads, medical facilities: much has been destroyed by decades of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this applies both to the majority of infrastructure and to trust in state structures. This is where the KfW Peace Fund comes into play. Since 2007 and on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), KfW Development Bank has supported the population of the country to the tune of EUR 76.6 million together with the Congolese government.
In many countries, development cooperation is associated with risks for aid workers. In our dossier we describe where the dangers are.To the dossier
Working together with non-governmental organisations and local initiatives, infrastructure projects are financed that enable people to earn their own incomes, improve their living standards, and experience the direct benefits of community life without violence. The commitment of the German Federal Government is thus designed to create prospects for them to have a future in their own country.
According to Karin Derflinger, who headed up the KfW Office in the capital of Kinshasa for four years until autumn 2017, the main challenge is complying with the "Do-No-Harm" approach, which means selecting suitable projects that do not give preference to individual interest or ethnic groups. Measures therefore had to be designed in a manner that was "sensitive to conflicts", by involving local people for example. They can gauge what the people really need, and they know the motives of the individual groups. This means further conflicts can be identified early and contained.
Read more under the picture gallery.
Development cooperation projects in dangerous countries
Poachers slaughter elephants in national parks, eat the meat and make a profit from the ivory. The population of wild animals like rhinoceroses, eastern lowland gorillas or okapis is dwindling, not least due to marauding rebel groups. There are repeated deadly attacks on park managers and rangers in the national parks. The photo on the left shows gamekeeper Erik Mararv, who was shot by elephant poachers. Three of his colleagues died. KfW supports the management of six nature conservation areas, in part, in cooperation with the WWF. “The projects are not just about helping to protect species. They are also about providing more safety and better working conditions for the rangers,” says Karin Derflinger from KfW. Better ranger training, equipment and measures for protecting the animals in their natural environment are supported.
"There are many rebels on the move in regions such as North Kivu or South Kivu in eastern Congo; the security level for the area we work in here is critical," says Karin Derflinger, talking about the threats faced by the local staff.
But this work pays off: more than 60 projects have already been implemented by the Peace Fund, including the building of health stations and schools, the setting up of markets, the drilling of wells, and the cultivation of irrigated rice terraces.
"We need to have stable structures in order to guarantee long-term peace," says Karin Derflinger. "In doing so, we provide initial help, stimulate the economy and create short-term jobs." Foreign organisations are not the ones tasked with building the municipal infrastructure, instead, it is the Congolese; this means they earn their own money and become motivated to push forward with the reconstruction of their country.
In the next phase of the programme, KfW wants to focus on the provinces of Ituri, South Kivu and North Kivu, the area from which the M23 armed rebels were recently driven out.
This article complements the picture gallery about development cooperation in the autumn/winter 2017 issue of CHANCEN "Mut".To German edition
Yet the situation in the region remains difficult. "The Peace Fund will contribute to stability and peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the long run, boosted by improved earnings opportunities," says Karin Derflinger.
Published on KfW Stories: Tuesday, 12 December 2017