Walter James (SOS Femme en Danger – SOSFED): Walter graduated in 2006 from the University of Minnesota. Following college, he worked on international development in Haiti and Senegal, and studied human rights and international development in Senegal, Costa Rica, and Morocco. Walter first visited Eastern Congo as a 2009 Peace Fellow for The Advocacy Project, where he documented the work of civil society organizations such as SOS Femmes en Danger, Arche d’Alliance, and Tunza Mazingira. The following year, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy with a Master’s degree in Public Policy.

UNFPA data-mapping: Where’s the Beef?

22 Aug

A few months ago, I wrote a couple blogs about SOS FED’s participation in a UNFPA data-mapping project underway in the Kivus. SOS FED center staff have been filling out a 3-page survey with information on each survivor of sexual violence that the center receives. This data collection is being facilitated in Uvira and Fizi Territories by Arche d’Alliance. A fortunate side-effect of participation in this project is that SOS FED and Arche have been working closer together than ever before.

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit the UNFPA office in Bukavu, the provincial capital of Sud Kivu. The Bukavu UNFPA offices compiles and processes all of the data collected in Sud Kivu in the 8 territories: Kalehe, Mwenga, Idjwi, Shabunda, Walungu, Kabare, Uvira, and Fizi.

The UNFPA Sud Kivu office just released a report on the data it has collected for the first trimester of 2011 (January-April), and the data coming out of Fizi Territory is less than encouraging. In the first trimester of 2011, 118 rape cases were recorded by the UNFPA partners in Fizi, making it the territory with the second highest rate of sexual violence in the province. First place for the first 2011 trimester went to Mwenga Territory, which recorded 185 cases.

Over half of the recorded cases in the first trimester of 2011 in Fizi Territory belonged to the infamous January 1st mass rape in Fizi Centre, committed by FARDC troops under the command of Col. Kibibi. For their role in this incident, Col. Kibibi and several of his men were convicted and sentenced to prison terms by a Congolese military tribunal. Despite the isolated magnitude of the January 1st event, the sexual violence trends for the first trimester continue to be worrisome. It will be interesting to see the data for the next trimester, especially in light of the Nyakiele mass rape in June.

UN convoy on the road from Baraka to Uvira

UN convoy on the road from Baraka to Uvira

The UNFPA data-mapping project is funded by STAREC, a fund dedicated to stabilization efforts in the Congo. Much of the information compiled from the UNFPA project is being used in the security reform sector of the UN, working to reform the Congolese military and police in order to reduce the number of human rights abuses committed by state individuals. In addition, UNFPA is also engaging in supplying health centers throughout the region with much-needed medical kits, including post-rape kits for survivors in need of urgent medical assistance.

Field projects focusing on stabilization on the part of UNFPA and other UN organizations remain limited in Fizi Territory.

“L’axe est trop chaud.” Dr. Aziza told us.

The security situation in Fizi is obviously precarious, with a multitude of non-state armed groups still operating with impunity. Until the security situation is improved, UNFPA and other organizations such as UNICEF remain outside of Fizi Territory.

I have also found out a few interesting facts about STAREC: out of its $200 million dollar budget, only $5 million is dedicated to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) issues. Out of the $5 million, $500,000 is being used for the data-mapping project in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri, of which the South Kivu base received $200,000. This may seem like quite a bit of money, but for a project of its scope in a space as large as South Kivu, it may not be quite enough. In addition, the data-mapping project ends in 2012; while the UNFPA staff in Bukavu is counting on an extension with assistance from the Canadian government, this type of project needs broader support in order to continue in a relevant manner.

One source of much-needed support for the data-mapping project is from the Congolese government and from local Congolese partners. The UNFPA uses the CTLVS (Comité Territoriale de la Lutte contre la Violence Sexuelle) as a focal point for collecting its information in Sud Kivu. The CTLVS is a government initiative to coordinate and orient the various organizations working on sexual violence issues throughout the country. However, it is clear that the CTLVS has not quite yet found its place in the grand scheme of the things, and many local organizations in Uvira and Fizi do not engage with the CTLVS or with each other.

Dr. Aziza emphasized that synergy, cooperation, and coordination are essential for local organizations working in the Congo. Indeed, if things like the UNFPA data-mapping project and the CTLVS are to be effective and relevant, all the actors in the zone must work together.


Posted Aug 22nd, 2011

1 Comment

  • JYJ

    August 28, 2011


    Thanks for the update, Walter, and good work! Complicated situation, however, it is much appreciated that you take the time to explain what is happening. You provide an informed presence here that helps the rest of us understand what is happening with our “brothers and sisters” in E. Congo.

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