Restoring Relationships Between Security Forces and Civilians in the Eastern DRC

With the support of the UK’s Department for International Development, we are leading a security sector reform program called Lobi Mokolo Ya Sika, “Tomorrow is a New Day”. The goal of the program is to strengthen the accountability of Congolese Armed Forces in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri — areas identified under the United Nations International Security and Stabilization Strategy.

Lobi Mokolo Ya Sika gives to civil society groups, community leaders, and members of the public administration the tools and support they need to hold police and military forces accountable in a way that mitigates future conflict. The program has three main components.

The first one focuses on establishing avenues for dialogue in the target areas. We led dialogue and conflict transformation sessions for 24 local security councils, and supported the joint design of security plans between the military and civilians. The planning sessions happen in town hall meetings, attended by local government authorities, military and police chiefs, civil society leaders, and regular citizens. These participatory processes helped the police improve their work, create a safe environment, and propose innovative solutions.

“I did not think that the population could evaluate our police work every day. This is a new practice that is gradually being incorporated into our habits.”
– a member of the police

The second component focuses on outreach and joint development activities that bring together soldiers, police officers, and civilians in order to restore mutual trust. Before our arrival in Walungu, a small city 50 km from Bukavu in Eastern DRC, getting civilians and soldiers to work together seemed to be an impossible task. The villagers accused the military of cutting trees and stealing food, and trust was at an all-time low. However, under the leadership of our program team, soldiers and civilians begun to till a communal field. “Since you started working with these soldiers,” said one of the villagers, “we noticed a transformation in the way they live and communicate with us.”

The third component of Lobi Mokolo Ya Sika is based on the promotion of positive role models through pop culture. In 2017, we launched our twelve-episode TV drama Ndakisa, broadcast on national television. The show’s main character, Commissaire Elombe, fights against crime and the corrupt practices of some of his less virtuous colleagues. We have also developed, printed, and distributed a new edition of our popular comic book series Mopila to civilians and security forces.

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