Launch of Local Voices

Residents of the Katale refugee camp. Tunda, Masisi territory, July 2013.

International Alert, Local Voices and Search For Common Ground are proud to announce the launch of their joint project Local Voices – Congolese Communities & The Kivu Conflict.

Through a series of weekly publications using personal testimonies and photographs, the project strives to give a voice to local people, from warlords and youth to displaced women and local authorities. The project focuses on sensitive issues such as armed groups, the weakness of state authorities, or tensions between ethnic communities, and places the reader in the daily lives of the communities most affected by armed conflict.
Local Voices aims to inform the general public as well as policy makers about the dynamics and triggers of violence in eastern Congo and put local populations at the centre of concerns.

Widuhaye, a 10-year-old displaced girl in front of Katale IDP camp. Masisi territory, North Kivu, July 2013.

For Alexis Bouvy, project director and co-founder of Local Voices, the project is about “giving a voice to populations who have no opportunities to share their experiences with armed conflicts, to express their concerns, their difficulties, their frustrations and their fears.”

Maria Lange, DRC country manager at International Alert says: “The exclusion of Congolese people from decision-making has been one of the obstacles to peace in DRC. Giving them a voice is an important step when it comes to building peace.”

The photostories will be published on Alert's website from 5 December 2013.

You can read the stories as they are published here:

Local Voices Part 1 - Masisi, the Wound of Kivu. Despite its peaceful landscapes with plenty of potential, Masisi has been for 20 years the scene of a deadly armed conflict leading to dramatic humanitarian consequences. How do the local people feel about the problems they face, and what solutions do they see?

Local Voices Part 2 - Between army and militias: A volatile balance. In the many villages of Kivu, eastern DRC, rebels and government soldiers walk side by side. This situation leads to unusual compromises, which may or may not hold over time.

Local Voices Part 3 - Power, land and identity: the origins of violence in Masisi. Since independence was declared in the Congo, the history of Masisi has been marked by high tensions. At the heart of these tensions is the issue of land rights and the power exercised by, or denied to, the different communities.

Local Voices Part 4 - Armed Militias in Masisi: A case study of the APCLS. With a few hundred men led by Hunde’s 'General’ Janvier Karairi, the People’s Alliance for Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS) is one of the many armed groups who undermine the authority of the Congolese state in North Kivu, without even being the most detrimental within the province.

Local Voices Part 5 - Say no to war, stay in civilian life. Despite the numerous challenges which the civilians experience on a daily basis in the far-flung villages of North Kivu, the civilian population shows an extraordinary willpower, and capacity for resilience.

Local Voices Part 6 - Twenty years old with a Kalashnikov. They are barely 20 years old but they have already been carrying Kalashnikovs for several years. Local Voices met some of these young Congolese rebels.

© Local Voices 2013 with International Alert and Search For Common Ground

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