Starting phase 1: May 28- June 11 Author Carolien Jacobs
To start off field research in South Kivu province, Carolien Jacobs (Leiden University) spent two weeks in Bukavu from May 28-June 11. Together with ISDR researcher Patrick Milabyo, Carolien started by making sure all project formalities were met; in DR Congo this means not only making contractual arrangements about collaboration, but also obtaining an ‘ordre de mission’, a letter from an organisation or institute in DRC that allows researchers to carry out their activities in the field. Such letters briefly set out the aim of research, but also identify research locations and modes of transport. In our case, the administration of ISDR (Institut Supérieur pour le Développement Rural) provides these letters. Once researchers go to the field, they usually pass at different authorities to show their letter. Authorities sign the letter and put a stamp on it. It is an important procedure to fulfill before actual data collection can start.
From June to early September, the local researchers Innocent, Joachim and Stanislas continued data collection in Bukavu for two days per week. During this period they sent regular reports to Carolien and these reports were then discussed during Skype sessions.
In September, Carolien spent another two weeks in Bukavu. The aim of this visit was twofold; to wrap up phase 1 of the research, and to start phase 2. To end phase 1, we sat together again for two days and talked about the findings thus far and the extent at which differences and similarities were found in the different suburbs of Bukavu. We also prepared a workshop to inform a wide range of stakeholders about our findings thus far.
During a three-week period of fieldwork, Hélène Flaam joined the team of local researchers in Faradje. APRu has been a research partner of the Conflict Research Group since 2012, and has developed an extensive knowledge on local socio-political and military dynamics and justice needs. For this fieldwork a survey was developed that aimed at getting a better understanding of justice issues and justice needs of IDPs, which have been displaced because of LRA activities. Once the survey was modified and tested on the ground and the researchers trained, 300 respondents were questioned in 12 different sites in the Faradje territory. Together with the support of local authorities and the perseverance of the APRu-team, the research turned out to be a huge success.
During this field trip, Hélène Flaam joined the local research team of SAIPED in the Dungu territory, Haut-Uele. A range of respondents, justice providers, promoters and beneficiaries were interviewed. Respondents included customary chiefs, representatives of civil society and humanitarian organizations, lawyers, police officers, state officials, camp chiefs, and of course IDPs themselves. Furthermore, almost 400 respondents participated in a survey that covered justice issues and experiences of litigants. IDPs as well as non-displaced people were questioned.
The situation here is quit different than around Faradje, which is a more remote area than Dungu. After the LRA attacks in 2008, known as the Christmas massacres, Dungu was overwhelmed with international NGOs and agencies. However, since last year, its number is decreasing rapidly.
Tatiana Carayannis, Aaron Pangburn and Mignonne Fowlis from the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) joined a team of their local researchers on a field visit to two of their western DRC research sites, Gemena and Gbadolite in the northwest province of Equateur for a series of interviews with government officials, civil society representatives, and customary leaders on issues of public authority. While near the border of the Central African Republic, the trip also served as an opportunity to visit the Inke refugee camp, home to approximately 13,000 Central African refugees, where the team initiated conversations on a new research project focusing on access to justice for displaced populations in the DRC.
SSRC manages the research in Western DRC, which includes Central African refugee camps and the communities surrounding them. The research trip was preceded by a WOTRO kickoff workshop in Kinshasa from 29-31 January 2015.
On 29-30 January 2015, the consortium partners of the ‘Accommodation of justice for displaced in DRC’ project convened their kick-off workshop in Kinshasa. The project is based at and coordinated out of the Conflict Research Group (University of Ghent) other key partners include, Cordaid, Wageningen University and the Institut Supérieur de Développement Rural. During the workshop, participants presented initial mapping studies of justice enhancing mechanisms in the each of the provincial sites, as well as a literature review focused on the research questions of the project. On the second day, the group invited Congolese and international NGOs and UN agencies working on issues of displacement and access to justice for feedback, and to connect the research with broader policy audiences.