Blog by Sean Darby, Integrity Action
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been ravaged by conflict for much of the last two decades. Whilst war in the country officially came to an end after six year in 2003, violence continues to erupt intermittently. Beyond the lives lost it is estimated that the violence over this period costs the country a cumulative total of over six billion dollars, and it remains the 11th least safe country in the world. In countries afflicted by conflict a power vacuum is created which allows corruption to thrive. This is certainly the case in the DRC where the conflict has weakened the government from having a firm control over much of the country. Conflict and corruption in the DRC centres in the east of the country, including South Kivu district. This is far from the capital, Kinshasa, and where many of the countries militia groups originate from and are active. Conflict, leading to corruption has left the country in extreme poverty as well as blocking the mechanisms for citizens to alleviate themselves from this poverty trap. Thus the country has the second highest levels of poverty amongst countries data could be gathered for.
Our Network in South Kivu
(Monitors in South Kivu)
At the centre of conflict, corruption and poverty in the DRC is South Kivu. It is into this instability that Integrity Action are looking to expand and develop our work. Integrity Action has operated in South Kivu since 2010 in partnership with Foundation Chirezi (FOCHI). FOCHI is an independent Congolese organisation working with local communities to build accountability and trust in Eastern Congo. They work with volunteers from communities to provide citizen oversight of vital service delivery projects in this volatile region.
FOCHI uses Integrity Action’s Community Integrity Building (CIB) methodology. This is a locally driven approach that helps to identify and implement solutions to integrity problems with service delivery projects. This is done through the use of our tool, DevelopmentCheck. The tool allows trained volunteers to monitor infrastructure and service projects, and to record project details, along with any problems and resolutions they have found with a project. DevelopmentCheck also records our Fix-Rate, which is the percentage of problems found, that were fixed. There are currently over 650 projects on the website with a total value of over 800 million dollars.
FOCHI have trained over 2,000 people in CIB. These 2,000 citizens have in turn used their training to monitor the implementation of 227 infrastructure and service projects with a very respectable Fix-Rate of 50%. In addition, FOCHI are one of our most successful partners with Integrity Clubs, training 1,800 students in the 100 Integrity Clubs they have formed. These clubs teach children about the dangers of corruption, the merits of Integrity, and how to spread these values to their communities.
Because of FOCHI’s knowledge about both the local environment, as well as about familiarity with our approach, in 2017 we provided FOCHI with a grant to ensure our CIB methodology reached a wider audience in South Kivu. This has led to the creation of a network of organisations working together to increase transparency and integrity, and fight corruption. FOCHI trained four organisations in South Kivu. Each one will train monitors and initially monitor two projects each. They will then be able to share their experiences and knowledge in order to strengthen Integrity in one of the hardest places to do so in the world.
Action for Peace, Education and Development (APED) is an apolitical, not-for- profit youth and adult education association. APED looks to support grassroots groups working on community rehabilitation and strengthen the capacity of the local population in peaceful conflict management.
Association pour le Développement Intégré et Intégral de Fizi (ADIF) is a not-for- profit association which was founded in 1998. Their aim is to provide support to local communities for self-promotion and sustainable development. They defend human rights, especially those of women and children as well as helping communities develop sustainable self-sustaining livelihood opportunities.
Max Impact is a non-governmental development organisation based in Bukavu, South-Kivu, which was established in 2006. Max Impact look to assist in the sustainable management of natural resources and the socio-economic impact of development policies and projects as well as support and monitor the implementation of public policies that promote human rights and the sustainable development of areas where natural resources are exploited.
Organisation Saint-Basile pour le Développement de l’Est-Congo (OSBDEC asbl) is a non-governmental organisation created in 2007 by a group concerned about the deterioration of the living conditions of communities and the destruction of social capital and Institutions for the management of collective natural resources. OBEDEC has set itself the major objective of the socio-economic and environmental promotion of disadvantaged communities in the post-war period.
Although this project only began in January 2017 the network of organisations have achieved some fantastic results already. Between them they have trained 49 new monitors including 36 students from two new Integrity Clubs. They have started monitoring eight projects between them. All of these organisations share the vision of increasing Integrity and assisting communities in the fight against corruption in DRC. By providing this network with our tools and knowledge we hope to reach a situation where infrastructure projects are monitored at a level of ‘critical mass’, or the Tipping Point. This is where we aim to monitor 80% of all projects above the value of $50,000 in a sub district, before moving on to the next one. This demonstrates to all key stakeholders (senior government officials, contractors, the media, prospective donors, educators, and NGO partners) that our approach is capable of both depth and scale, and will encourage communities to demand and expect integrity/ensure communities have access.
Integrity Action, through our existing partner FOCHI, are expanding the use of CIB in one of the most unstable places in the world. Together with the four new organisations we will ensure communities have access to the essential goods that people are trying to deliver in the region; water, education, healthcare and housing. DRCs road out of poverty will be a long one, but by creating a network that install Integrity from the community up, we hope to facilitate this journey.