Research on conflict and violence in the eastern Congo often focuses on rural areas, which harbour armed groups, and are the prime sites of military operations against these groups. However, conflict and insecurity do not stop at the borders of cities.
The inhabitants of many cities in the Congo are faced with rampant insecurity. Levels of criminality are often high, due to frequent armed robberies, burglaries, murders and in some cities, ransom kidnappings. Less visible forms of everyday insecurity also abound, including extortion by security services and local authorities, conflicts around property and debts, and uncertain livelihoods.
In the coming months, the Usalama Project, a collaboration with Bukavu-based Groupe d’Etudes sur les Conflits et la Sécurité Humaine (GEC-SH), will publish a series of blogs on urban insecurity as experienced by different professional groups and layers of the population, such as female vendors and traders, money-changers, and motor-taxi drivers. It will also look at different causes of and responses to insecurity, such as vigilante groups. The series aims to give voice to urban inhabitants, and to trace their perceptions, experiences and initiatives.
The essays will complement the project’s research reports and policy briefings, which respectively focus on in-depth analysis and policy implications. Essays will be published in English or French, each featuring a summary in the other language. The first in the series, Kidnapping à Goma : « Les enfants, une nouvelle cible des ravisseurs », by Passy Mubalama can be read here. The other blogs in the series can be found here.
The series is co-edited by Claude Iguma Wakenge and Judith Verweijen. Claude is an Associate Professor at the Institut Supérieur de Développement Rural de Bukavu (ISDR-Bukavu) in the DRC. Judith is a Lecturer at the University of Sussex in the UK.
The third phase of the RVI Usalama Project examines urban security and social cohesion in cities in the eastern Congo. It forms part of the Solutions for Peace and Recovery Project (SPR) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).