Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lack of Newsprint, of Aid, or Wrong Approach?

Texas in Africa argues that the Democratic Republic of Congo's various problems are well-publicized and there's a lot of money flowing into the area. Enough for the government to offer money to help Haiti, certainly. The problem is the wrong approach.
A quick, non-scientific Google News search yielded 1,857 stories that at least mention "Democratic Republic of Congo." These stories come from news sources as varied as Allafrica.com and the Washington Post. When I narrow the search to include "conflict," there are 444 hits from the last two weeks alone. When I narrow it further to search for both terms from January 2002 to December 2010, there are 17,800 stories. Even Oprah covers the DRC, with specific attention to the rape crisis. ...

All told, the Democratic Republic of Congo gets about $4 billion per year in foreign aid. How exactly does $4 billion per annum constitute "ignored?" ...

hat are some of these mistakes?
  • An obsession with the 2006 presidential elections. Donors (mostly the U.S.) spent $500 million to hold an election that would legitimate the new regime in Kinshasa. They did so despite clear signals that the fighting in the east wasn't over and that the country wasn't even close to "democratic." It also prematurely raised the populations's hopes for real change in their lives. Those hopes have been almost completely unrealized, and many Congolese are disillusioned with the idea of democracy.
  • A failure to address local land conflicts & citizenship issues in the peace settlements. Severine Autesserre's observations on this issue are key to understanding why the fighting drags on.
  • A failure to acknowledge and address Rwanda's role in the conflicts until very recently.
  • Misguided military strategies that assume the FARDC is a credible partner.
  • Financing a government that is rife with corruption.
All the news accounts and money in the world won't protect the Congolese if the basis on which the international community's response to the crisis is flawed.

No comments:

Post a Comment