In 2013, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda signed a peace, security and cooperation framework, which was seen as an opportunity to consolidate peace in eastern DRC. Following the adoption of the framework, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) supported the Government of the DRC in developing a comprehensive disarmament, remobilization, and reintegration programme—giving new impetus to security sector reform in the country and aligning programmes with the National Reconstruction and Stabilization Plan (STAREC) and International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (ISSSS).
The revised ISSSS took a radically different approach to stabilization based on lessons learned, and shifted the design of the Democratic Republic of Congo Stabilization Coherence Fund. Employing a contextual approach, communities affected by conflict now sit at the heart of ISSSS and Stabilization Coherence Fund modalities. The Stabilization Coherence Fund, in particular, helps transform communities by addressing the political and structural drivers of conflict in Eastern DRC by rolling-out responses based on robust conflict analyses.
In doing so, stakeholders tackle the root causes of conflict such as fragmented identities, socio-economic pressure points, poverty, and land access disputes. Fund initiatives are designed to be integrated, holistic, and targeted, which allows government and members of Congolese society to mitigate causes of conflict, create conditions for improved governance and sustainable development, and build mutually accountable results and outcomes, together.
Strategic framework and theory of change
If women, men, girls, and boys directly affected by conflict are put at the center of solutions it creates avenues for dialogue and expands the window for sustainable initiatives to be implemented. By default, the approach helps government institutions better respond to the concerns of affected communities and integrate them (and recommendations) into public policies that reinforce security, build trust, and mitigate external shocks that could destabilize the entire process.
Results are built on a holistic five-pillar framework that cover multi-sector and dimensional challenges. Modified from the ISSSS, pillars have been restructured to address conflict dynamics in an integrated manner, a process that brings together communities and government officials in a ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ manner—ultimately empowering communities to hold the state accountable in each priority zone.
The five pillars cover:
- Democratic dialogue by supporting national and provincial governments in advancing peace processes and commitments under existing agreements.
- Security and reducing threats to life, property, and freedom of movement.
- Restoring state authority and strengthening public security, access to justice, and administrative services.
- Supporting the return, reintegration, and recovery of internally displaced people and refugees, and helping them contribute to local economic recovery.
- Sexual and gender-based violence and ensuring coordinated responses in combating sexual violence, including the implementation of integrated regional strategies.
This five-pronged approach is built on a strong foundation of community-based engagement and local solutions to conflict, as identified through democratic dialogue processes. This makes the Coherence Fund, above all, a development instrument that strengthens social contracts between vulnerable communities and the state.