Crossings: The journey to peace

At a time when there is renewed international attention on eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this photo essay offers a brief and compelling insight into the lives of small-scale cross-border traders in the Great Lakes region.

According to our 2012 research, Walking in the dark: Informal cross-border trade in the Great Lakes region, at least 45,000 of these cross-border traders work across the eastern borders of DRC. Three-quarters of them are women, who, despite the turmoil and insecurity in eastern DRC, keep the local economy afloat by ensuring the supply of commodities and making a meagre but essential living.

Since 2009 International Alert has been working to strengthen women’s economic empowerment and build trust across borders in a region long torn apart by violence and where tensions remain high. In 2013 we commissioned award-winning photographer Carol Allen-Storey and independent researcher Alexis Bouvy to travel to eastern DRC and document the importance and transformative potential of cross-border trade to people’s livelihoods, to tell the story of the daily lives of small-scale traders from DRC, as well as Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. 

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