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In Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

The context


From the very start of its colonization and since its independence in 1960, the DROC has always been coveted for its exceptionally rich underground. The extraction of various minerals (more specifically copper, cobalt, manganese, diamond, radium…) has permitted a certain level of development and an important industrial activity, more particularly in the economic capital of Lubumbashi, in the southern province of Katanga.

In April 2003, after a war of occupation in the eastern part of the country, which had provoked a real human disaster ( killing 3 million), the DROC signed agreements – under the aegis of the UNO – aimed at restoring democracy, under a transitional Constitution, which would pave the way to the elections of 2006.

Today, the country has to confront the consequences of the recent war and the instability of the Great Lake region: economic recession, poverty and unemployment which have become widespread. It is also facing the effects of ten years of personal enrichment among its leaders, as well as the corruption which has penetrated all social levels.

In this context, the role of civil society organizations is far from negligible. On the contrary: a certain absence on the part of government has placed them on the foreground in several occasions, particularly in the management of public services and the construction of a democratic process in the fight against poverty.

The project

Our partners in the African region have proposed as seminar-venue, Lubumbashi, the second capital of this great but politically destructured country, abounding in natural resources and a poor population. In fact, its situation is characteristic of civil society efforts at getting organized – despite the risks of distortions and ambiguities- to fill a political and institutional vacuum. Civil society should not take the place of politicians, but rather rebuild the institutions, with them, and contribute in making them work, with each actor (public authority and civil society together) taking up its part of the responsibility.

With the concrete example of Lubumbashi, we envisage a stage of participatory research in the locality, in order to define the contours of civil society and the challenges presented by its relationship with political officials in different levels. This first step aims at exposing the conditions concerning the exercise of responsibility among the different parties. A workshop of synthesis and a meeting with social actors from different Congolese regions will be held; it will be followed by a regional seminar which will widen reflection to other countries in the region and in the continent.

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