Masisi, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, 8-10 February 2015 — This second Congo Peace Center (CPC) workshop built upon the success of the first dialogue in Rutshuru. Masisi was selected because of the regions insecurity resulting from the recent discovery of minerals and influx of displaced people due to a myriad of regional conflicts.
The workshop was held from February 8-10, which had 160 invitees, and 200 subsequent participants represented the region’s seven tribes, civic organizations, and government institutions.
The three-day workshop consisted of four breakaway sessions that were shaped by dialogue prompts and by ten thirty-minute talks that covered issues including: constitutional rights, good governance, conflict resolution, and prioritizing community needs.
The breakaway sessions provided a unique opportunity for the autonomous factions of the community to work together to address concerns and build a shared vision for Masisi’s future. The topics of the breakaway sessions included: a community needs assessment, stereotypes and how to move past them, a dialogue to promote civic engagement between local/provincial administrators and the population, and a shared vision for the future.
According to participants, the conference’s emphasis on community participation, Congolese leadership, rural locations and a body of participants that provide a holistic representation of the community is a welcomed shift away from narrowly focused community dialogues that are held in Goma, North Kivu.
Also unlike previous seminars held in Masisi, CPC’s emphasis on community participation allowed the workshop to continuously adapt to the concerns of the community. CPC’s message that sustainable change starts at the community level was well received.
After the workshop concluded, conversations with participants all point to the workshop’s success in providing the participants with a greater sense of community and a willingness to work together. Regional insecurity will remain a factor, but CPC succeeded in opening avenues of dialogue that will mitigate future conflict.
Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Director for the CPC, outlined the goals of CPC’s workshop as facilitating peace though local dialogues, fostering local economic development though development projects that are identified and supported by local communities, elevating the voices of rural populations so that their views are taken into account during national policy formulation, and supporting “good neighborness.”
By Gavin Finnegan, Manya Riche and Jendayi Frazer