Tag Archives DRC

Women’s Week 2023 | From young girls to “bush wives”: Armed conflicts are traumatising girl soldiers in Africa, and post-conflict peacebuilding and rehabilitation efforts could be making it worse

Women’s Week 2023 | From young girls to “bush wives”: Armed conflicts are traumatising girl soldiers in Africa, and post-conflict peacebuilding and rehabilitation efforts could be making it worse

As armed conflicts persist across the world, children are repeatedly recruited into armed groups as soldiers, robbing them of their childhood. While some estimates reveal that girls comprise almost half ...

Environmental destruction and resistance: a closer look at the violent reoccupation of the DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park

Environmental destruction and resistance: a closer look at the violent reoccupation of the DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park

The decision of the indigenous Batwa to reoccupy parts of eastern DRC’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park by force shocked many outside observers. They were further shocked when the Batwa started to ...

COVID-19 and Conflict | Economic downturn, precarity, and coping mechanisms in the Eastern DRC

The Kivus in the Eastern DRC do not seem to be getting a break. Besides facing a protracted armed conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic downturn in the region as mining activities have been limited or shut down completely. In light of this intersection of crises, the region’s inhabitants have had to find ways to cope, defying lockdown measures in the process. Yet, the social ties of the region is what is keeping it alive, write Christo Gorpudolo and Claire Akello.

"TwangizaArticanalMiners" by USAID_IMAGES is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has faced a long period of protracted conflict, situated in a part of Africa that at one point in time has faced multiple conflicts or genocides, making the region highly volatile (Buscher, 2018: 194). The Kivu provinces in the Eastern DRC are facing a protracted armed conflict that has been widely reported on and has also been discussed on Bliss (see this article, this one, and this one).

As part of a research project hosted at ISS called ‘When Disaster Meets Conflict‘(Discord), we conducted a brief study of COVID-19 responses in the DRC, trying to find out what the responses were and how these were viewed and experienced on the ground. We conducted desk research and interviews with Congolese living and working in the Eastern DRC and the Kivus. We found that the intersection of the ongoing conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to great uncertainty in the region that people have sought to counter in their own ways.

Besides the prevailing economic situation as a result of violent conflict, the DRC has also experienced a new outbreak of communicable and highly infectious diseases, like its tenth Ebola outbreak in 2018, (see this WHO news article) as well as measles, yellow fever and, most recently, the outbreak of COVID-19, which occurred amidst the worst Ebola outbreak on the continent at the time (Mobula et al., 2020: 3). With the coinciding occurrence of COVID-19 and Ebola and an ongoing conflict, many Congolese families and miners feared the loss of their livelihoods and were at a greater risk of falling further into poverty due to dwindling incomes and severe health risks.

Following the recording of the first COVID-19 case (GARDAWORLD, 2020) on 10 March last year, on 24 March the DRC government announced a state of health emergency, declaring a nationwide lockdown to be observed in all of the country’s 11 provinces. Since then, the lockdown has been extended five times by the national assembly, with various forms of preventive measures introduced (Atlantic Council, 2020). The lockdown measures have immensely affected mining activities in the DRC (IPIS, 2020) a country where residents rely heavily on income from the mining sector. According to a report by the European Network for Central Africa (EurAc), insecurity in the mineral supply chain due to the outbreak of COVID-19 has had an impact on the Congolese economy in general, with the country preparing for a potential catastrophic economic downturn in the mining sector (Business and Human Rights Resource Center, 2020).

Mining activities in the Kivus and the Eastern DRC are conducted in person, with a strong reliance on human or person-to-person interaction. Thus, with the introduction of preventive measures, the livelihoods of miners and people living in Eastern DRC have been negatively impacted, as these preventive measures according to respondents run contrary to the somewhat informal practices in the DRC, particularly in the mining sector. Some prevention measures introduced by the government included the prevention of the movement of people, the closing of borders, and the limitation of legal mining activities, which forced small-scale miners to cease their operations that provided them with incomes necessary to survive.

One of the respondents participating in the research stated that with no definite time of earliest recovery in the mining sector, there is increasing anxiety and fear amongst miners and people living in the Kivus of little chance of a swift economic recovery as the situation moves from a short-term health crisis to a prolonged economic downturn.

In the Kivus, some areas such as Biholo, Nalucho and Kalehe have suspended mining activities, while in other sites artisanal miners continue to work amidst strict guidelines and awareness campaigns about the containment of COVID-19 by different civil society organizations. However, the situation is far from ideal. It was also highlighted by respondents that the closure of mining activities affects the wider population in the Kivus because many people rely on the income from the mines.

Defying lockdown measures to counter anxiety

These economic impacts have caused distress among families, miners, and people living in the Kivus. As a coping mechanism, the population in the Kivus find social gatherings important (although these gathering are not permitted) as a form of mental support. According to four of the six respondents interviewed for this study, families and residents living in Eastern DRC and the Kivus meet in what they referred to as ‘secret bars’ operating undercover. These bars usually appear closed or isolated from the outside, but are booming inside. Respondents also stated that most of the friends/or families meeting inside these ‘secret bars’ have a mutual agreement, as these gathering places remain secret to those outside the trust circles. These gatherings involve the sharing of drinks and friendly conversation. It is considered a way to handle anxiety that comes with uncertain times, including the current state of the Congolese economy.

A major risk factor posed by this form of coping mechanism is that it makes the population more vulnerable to COVID-19 and increases the risk of widespread COVID-19 transmission due to increased social interaction. Yet people felt that they had to defy lockdown measures to cope and were willing to take the risk. Consequently, social gatherings still take place, serving an important function in a time of economic precarity and great uncertainty. This form of coping may be the lifeline for many in the Eastern DRC and elsewhere, and its value should not go unrecognized.


Atlantic Council. 2020. “Shaping the global future together.” Accessed 25 July 2020 https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/

Büscher, K., 2018. “African cities and violent conflict: the urban dimension of conflict and post conflict dynamics in Central and Eastern Africa.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 12 (2): 193-210.

Business and Human Rights Resource Center. 2020. “Mining minister warns against the social and economic impact of mine closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.” https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/drc-mining-minister-warns-against-the-social-and-economic-impact-of-mine-closures-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

GARDAWORLD. 2020. “DRC: authorities declare state of emergency March 24/3.” https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/326271/drc-authorities-declare-state-of-emergency-march-24-update-3

IPIS. 2020. “The impact of COVID-19 on the artisanal mining sector in Eastern DRC.” https://ipisresearch.be/publication/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-the-artisanal-mining-sector-in-eastern-drc/

World Bank. 2020. “World Population: DRC.” Accessed on 16 June 2020 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=CG-CD

Mobula, L. M., H. Samaha, M. Yao, A. S. Gueye, B. Diallo, C. Umutoni, J. Anoko, J. P. Lokonga, L. Minikulu, M. Mossoko, and E. Bruni, 2020. “Mobilizing the COVID-19 response in the DRC.” Accessed on 23 June 2020 https://www.path.org/articles/mobilizing-covid-19-response-drc/

About the authors:

Christo Gorpudolo is a development practitioner who has been working in the development sector since 2014. She is an early career researcher with an academic interest in topics including humanitarian aid, gender, peace, and conflict. She has a Master’s of Arts Degree in Development Studies from the ISS.

Claire Akello graduated from the ISS in 2019 with a major in Human Rights, Gender and Conflict studies. She has been engaged in both media and development work for local and international organizations for over five years, focusing on issues related to health, education, and access to justice.


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ALL Black Lives Matter in the Congo

ALL Black Lives Matter in the Congo

On behalf of East Congo Tribune representing the Banyamulenge diaspora in the Netherlands After decades of civil warfare, peace is the priority for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet the predicament ...

“Whose responsibility is it anyway”? Questioning the role of UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO in stabilizing the eastern DRC by Delphin Ntanyoma

“Whose responsibility is it anyway”? Questioning the role of UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO in stabilizing the eastern DRC by Delphin Ntanyoma

In the highly volatile eastern DRC, where over the past decades violent conflict and political instability have claimed the lives of thousands of civilians, UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO has intervened ...

The End of the African Mining Enclave? by Ben Radley

During much of the twentieth century, the African mining sector was seen by many as an enclaved economy, extracting resources to the benefit of the global economy while offering little to meaningfully or sustainably advance social and economic development on the continent. Yet recent mining industry restructuring has fuelled fresh hopes that the sector now carries the potential to drive industrialisation and structural transformation across Africa’s 24 low-income countries. However, empirical evidence from this country group has been lacking, with a focus instead on middle-income African countries (in particular South Africa) and the historical experiences of today’s high-income countries. So what relevance, if any, does the idea of the mining enclave continue to hold for Africa’s poorest areas today?  

Since 1980, the World Bank has loaned more than $1 billion to low-income country governments across Africa to liberalise, privatise and deregulate the mining sector, resulting in the en masse arrival of transnational corporations (TNCs) to lead a foreign-controlled, industrial mining economy across the continent. The process has been theoretically sustained, in part, by an emergent group of Global Value Chain (GVC) scholars, who take ‘as their point of departure the flaws of the literature on the enclave nature of extractive industries in Africa’ (Ayelazuno, 2014: 294). The enclave thesis was initially established by Prebisch (1950) and Singer (1950), who used a centre-periphery framework to argue that capital intensive resource extraction in the global periphery has little articulation with local and national economies, and that the benefits accrue largely to the foreign countries and TNCs providing the industrial technology and capital.

Two of the most influential policy papers from the GVC literature challenging this thesis, Kaplinsky et al. (2011) and Morris et al. (2012), observed that the global mining industry has recently restructured away from vertical integration and towards outsourcing the supply of goods and services to independent firms. Historically, so the argument goes, foreign-managed industrial mines in Africa were enclaved productive structures, which tightly managed and controlled all of their activities internally. Yet today, by subcontracting to and procuring from domestic firms and entrepreneurs, these same mines can ‘provide a considerable impetus to industrialisation’ (Morris et al. 2012: 414). For Kaplinsky et al. (2011: 29), ‘the enclave mentality in low–income [African] economies is an anachronism’.

Yet to what extent does this claim about the end of the African mining enclave hold up in reality? This was the motivating question behind my recently published article, which explored the issue through a case study of Twangiza, an industrial gold mine located in South Kivu Province of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and managed by the Canadian corporation Banro. The answer, in short, is that the empirical data painted a very different picture to the expectations laid out by the theory.

While Banro did outsource a range of activities and services at Twangiza to independent firms, as foregrounded in the GVC literature, it internally managed the procurement of its mid- to high-value supplies – which heralded almost entirely from the Triad states,[1] South Africa and Australia – and subcontracted mostly to foreign firm subsidiaries. Banro only outsourced procurement to Congolese suppliers at the lowest-value end of the chain, mostly for office equipment and stationery, worker safety equipment and basic construction materials (such as steel bars and concrete). As elsewhere in the procurement chain, none of these low value goods were manufactured or procured domestically.

In the realm of subcontracting, in 2017, Banro subcontracted 15 firms to provide 13 different activities and services to the Twangiza mine. Of these firms, outside of the provision of labour, only two were Congolese. This was despite the presence of existing Congolese firms operating in the same areas (such as security, catering, road maintenance, fuel and transportation). Considered together, foreign firms captured an estimated 87 per cent of all value accruing to Twangiza’s subcontractors. In addition, some foreign firms had used their arrival through Banro to consolidate and expand their presence in the Congolese economy, by securing further subcontracts in the country’s mining and other sectors.

Moreover, while the position of labour is not considered by GVC enthusiasts, it proved highly relevant in this case, as corporate outsourcing at Twangiza had altered the nature of the relationship between workers and managers, as well as between different groups of workers themselves. Subcontracting at Twangiza led to the mine’s workforce being split across 15 different firms. This high level of organisational fragmentation weakened the collective power of workers by reproducing and further entrenching pre-existing social divisions between them. Individual firms recruited along certain class, ethnic or territorial lines, that functioned to hinder worker organisation and unity across them. This helps explain the near total absence of labour militancy at the mine, despite the fact that a large segment of the mine’s workers experienced low and declining wages, and poor access to benefits.

While the case of Banro’s Twangiza mine reflected global mining industry restructuring away from vertical integration and towards corporate outsourcing, there was little evidence to suggest this restructuring had invalidated the foundations of Prebisch and Singer’s original enclave thesis. On the contrary, the general picture seemed to confirm this thesis, whereby resource extraction in the periphery has few domestic linkages and is generally disarticulated from local and national economies due to the periphery’s dependence upon external technology and industrial capabilities in the centre.

Drawing on these findings, the wisdom of earlier neoliberal mining sector reform is questioned. Rather than taking a laissez-faire approach to mining industrialisation, African governments would be better served adopting interventionist measures via pro-labour and industrial policy to counter the observed twin tendency of corporate outsourcing to marginalise domestic firms and weaken the collective strength of workers through the organisational fragmentation of labour.

[1] The EU, the US and Japan.

Ayelazuno, J. (2014) ‘The “New Extractivism” in Ghana: A Critical Review of its Development Prospects’, The Extractive Industries and Society 1(2): 292–302.
Kaplinsky, R., M. Morris and D. Kaplan (2011) ‘A Conceptual Overview to Understand Commodities, Linkages and Industrial Development in Africa’. London: Africa Export Import Bank.
Morris, M., R. Kaplinsky and D. Kaplan (2012) ‘“One Thing Leads to Another”: Commodities, Linkages and Industrial Development’, Resources Policy 37(4): 408–16.
Prebisch, R. (1950) ‘The Economic Development of Latin America and its Principal Problems’. New York: Economic Commission for Latin America.
Singer, H. (1950) ‘U.S. Foreign Investment in Underdeveloped Areas: The Distribution of Gains Between Investing and Borrowing Countries’, The American Economic Review 40(2): 473–85.

Picture credit: Ben Radley. It shows cranes at Banro’s Twangiza mine that look out across the surrounding hills.

About the author: 

BR Portrait.jpgBen Radley is a PhD student at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. His research interests centre on the political economy of transnationals and development in low–income African countries, with a focus on the DRC. He’s a Leverhulme Trust grantee, and an affiliated member of the Centre of Expertise for Mining Governance at the Catholic University of Bukavu in the DRC.

The credibility problem of United Nations official statistics on Internally Displaced Persons by Gloria Nguya and Dirk-Jan Koch

The credibility problem of United Nations official statistics on Internally Displaced Persons by Gloria Nguya and Dirk-Jan Koch

Our research, notably Gloria Nguya’s PhD research, which she recently defended at the ISS, focused on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in urban settings in eastern DRC, particularly Bukavu and Goma. ...

Complexity of Micro-level Violent Conflict:  An ‘Urban Bias’ lenses of a Native Researcher? by Delphin Ntanyoma

Complexity of Micro-level Violent Conflict: An ‘Urban Bias’ lenses of a Native Researcher? by Delphin Ntanyoma

Micro-level violent conflict is complex, and the triggers of violence are unpredictable. Building on long-seated unresolved grievances coupled with the presence of foreign armed groups in Eastern Congo, the South-Kivu ...

Kidnapping in the Eastern Congo: ‘Grievance-oriented’ struggles and criminality? by Delphin Ntanyoma

From August to November last year, 83 cases of kidnapping were reported in Ruzizi Plain alone, part of Uvira territory in the Eastern Congo. While kidnapping can be viewed as a major problem in the DRC, Delphin Ntanyoma argues that it’s important to consider that violence in the Congo is deeply embedded in the demands for better living conditions coupled with other socio-political loopholes that have been created since the colonial era. 

Late last year, in November, I visited Uvira, one of the largest cities in the South Kivu region, Eastern Congo. The city constitutes an administrative center of Uvira Territory, having both the same name. For practical and security reasons, some passengers travelling from Bukavu, the capital city of the South Kivu Province, to Uvira pass through Rwanda and/or Burundi—two countries that border on the DRC. The choice of taking the Rwanda-Burundi route is not only linked to safety concerns, it is also connected to hazardous transport and road conditions. From Bukavu to Kamanyola, one must pass Ngomo escarpments[1]. What makes one think twice before undertaking the journey is the way in which you can, at any time, fall into the hands of kidnappers. Kidnappers are currently active in the Ruzizi Plain—from Kamanyola up to Uvira.

Though thoroughly criminal, kidnapping has become another form of violence in the Eastern Congo region. It has recently been practiced in the neighboring province of North Kivu, mainly in Rutshuru Territory to the extent one can guess that this practice has been imported in Uvira territory from the neighboring province.

Violence in the Congo is deeply embedded in the demands for better living conditions coupled with other socio-political loopholes that have been created since the colonial era. Following the country’s independence from Belgium, the public had had high expectations regarding the improvement of their standards of living. Rebel groups started to be formed, demanding an increase in living standards that many thought is unlikely to be achieved. Recently, the proliferation of and reliance on armed maneuvers has entered an era of unprecedented crises currently involving kidnapping.

From August up to late November 2018, more than 83 kidnapping cases had occurred only in the Ruzizi Plain region[2]. The kidnapping nightmare culminates in the paying of ransoms that average around $150-200. These incidents of kidnapping are widely spread in the vast region that borders on Burundi and Rwanda. However, localities of Ruzizi Plain such as Lemera, Kigoma, Luberizi, and Kabunambo are considered epicenters of these incidents. In most cases, these localities are targeted due to the way in which power confrontation occurs here at the local level. In addition, kidnappers exploit an absence of the national army in order to operate freely.

Kidnapping targets single persons to groups of people, and in Ruzizi Plain more men than women have been targeted: Out of the 83 reported cases, 71% of those kidnapped were men. In addition, kidnappers target individuals who may be able to pay. These are generally schools’ headmasters and teachers, villages’ chiefs, traders, motorcycle drivers, but also others targeted by their opponents settling accounts through arranged kidnappings. That is, armed groups can benefit from a clash between two parties, as they could then turn to them for revenge through arranged kidnapping. Kidnapping also targets village chiefs suspected of siding with the national army in their efforts to contain armed men. Some are targeted for having played the dubious role of pleasing both sides. The complexity and dynamics around armed mobilisation in the region explains decisions behind targeted kidnapping. However, one needs to recognise that even commuters are sometimes rounded up by these armed men desperately seeking to diversify their funding sources.

Kidnapping in Rutshuru and around the Volcanoes-Virunga Park is widely multifaceted. But behind the scenes, the same armed groups belonging to Maimai[3] are specifically cited among those engaged in the kidnapping of civilians. Engaging in such criminal activity is yet another expression of the failure to sustain their struggles. In Ruzizi Plain specifically, kidnappers are young militants and armed groups’ leaders who have at some point been reluctant to engage in reintegration or demobilisation processes. Whenever defeated or fallen into internal dissidence, these groups find shelter in remote regions where their strongholds are hardly attacked by the national army. By being unable to sustain conventional military wars, disconnected to sources of funds, armed groups resort to all means to survive. By getting involved in such criminal activities, observers tend to overlook the relevance of struggles that generally aimed to express anger over wide social and economic inequalities.

Though not yet deeply researched, it seems that kidnapping needs to immediately be contained and all means deployed for the sake of protecting the local population. However, the socio-political and economic conditions of the region and specifically that of the youth must constitute a primary concern. Hundreds of desperate young men mull around on the sidewalks, with no hope for their future, justifying the choice of relying on risky means to air their grievances. Moreover, a better understanding of kidnapping in the Congo could help to understand the meaning of urban violence that is mushrooming across some of the country’s cities.

[1] The Ngomo escarpment is the hazardous route that links Bukavu City to Uvira via Kamanyola. Kamanyola is a growing agglomeration on the side of Congo bordering on Ruzizi Plain and Rwanda-Burundi countries. The escarpment is constituted by steep hills coupled with muddy conditions of the road that cause many accidents. For years, these conditions have ensured that passengers rather choose to go through Rwanda to reach Kamanyola.

[2] I am indebted to Oscar Dunia, a local researcher who keeps an eye on this tragic issue in the region. Oscar has helped to gather the data and provided some insights on the ways kidnapping is organized, and also about motives behind the kidnappings.

[3] Maimai are local armed groups falling under the ‘Autochthonous’ and nationalist fighters. The group is differently spelled into the literature to the extent that they are either called Mai Mai, Mayimayi or simply Mai. Maimai is a Swahili word meaning ‘water’ and expresses historical beliefs in the power of witchcraft to turn bullets into water.

About the author:


Delphin Ntanyoma is a PhD candidateat the ISS. His research falls within Conflict Economics and is part of the Economics of Development & Emerging Markets (EDEM) Program. With a background of Economics and Masters’ of Art in Economics of Development from ISS, the researcher runs an online blog that shares personal views on socio-economic and political landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo but also that of the African Great Lakes Region. The Eastern Congo Tribune Blog can be found on the following link: www.easterncongotribune.com.






Elections in the DRC: Compromises, surprises and the ‘game of gambling’ by Delphin Ntanyoma

Elections in the DRC: Compromises, surprises and the ‘game of gambling’ by Delphin Ntanyoma

The results of the general elections recently held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after being delayed for two years show interesting developments. The opposition remained weak despite ...

The problem with transnational corporations in the DRC’s mining sector by Ben Radley

The problem with transnational corporations in the DRC’s mining sector by Ben Radley

A new Congolese mining code signed earlier this year is intended to increase the mining sector’s contribution to state revenue, which should in theory lead to improvements in the daily ...

How to make sure that research has a durable impact? Examples from DRC by Dorothea Hilhorst and Adriaan Ferf

About the authors:

IMG_4761_2Adriaan Ferf coordinated the DRC programme of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium. He has over 40 years of experience with policy studies and evaluations of development and humanitarian programmes in Africa and Asia.

TheaDorothea Hilhorst is professor of humanitarian aid and reconstruction at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

This post was originally published on the website of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium and is reproduced here with permission.

The Institute of Social Studies means to produce knowledge with a societal impact. It has been long realised that researchers need to be pro-active to ensure that their findings find their way to people in policy and practice (called research uptake). The authors of this blog have participated for 6 years in a research consortium, the ODI-led Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, where they had a range of research projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The long-term nature of this work gave them a unique opportunity to think about possibilities for durable impact. So what have they learned about how to make research count for development?

A history of research uptake

In past decades, donors have often put a premium on research uptake. A clear research uptake plan tends to be a requirement for any research funding. The primary focus of such a plan is to highlight that both researchers and funding partners have a responsibility to ensure that research findings reach key audiences. In recent years, research uptake has evolved from mere dissemination and communication strategies built around bombarding policy-makers and development actors with messages in the hope that some would get through.

Familiar problems

But some of these traditional approaches to research uptake have shortcomings. They often solely target decision-makers (including donors). This assumes that policy shapes practice, and hence that influencing practice should start with policy. But it has long been recognised that practice is shaped by many factors outside of policy. Often, innovation starts in the field, and practice gradually influences policy over time. That means it is as important for research uptake to get communities of practice to engage with research.

A second problem with focussing mainly on decisionmakers is that they spend far less of their time than researchers imagine on ‘the technical’ and ‘the practical.’ The challenge of keeping big programmes running and hungry bureaucracies satisfied may draw decision-makers’ attention from research-based insights (even if they would rather be spending their time on reading research). Conversations and conferences that draw in the great and the good from the policy and decision-making worlds can cause temporary flashes of interest, but their impact tends to fade quickly.

IMG_3247A third problem with established approaches to research uptake is that they assume that those commissioning research mean it when they say that they want to base their programmes on evidence. Unfortunately, policy agents tend to cherry pick what they find useful in research, to then act only on pieces of evidence that speak to their frame of reference. Finding out that your leading governance or social development programme, which has taken years to design and implement, is actually challenged by emerging research evidence is a major headache. In the politicised pulls and pushes that inform the process of policy-making, the space for using evidence can be rather small indeed.

Not just messages—relationships

But this does not mean that we should abandon the research uptake. We now understand the ‘relational’ aspects of research uptake better. This means that messages need to be tailored to specific audience needs and packaged appropriately. But even then, to get research to have an impact on policy and practice means travelling on a long and difficult road.

Our work in DRC as part of the SLRC has as much as possible worked on reaching out to communities of policy and practice in a systematic way. Having the luxury of a six-year programme allowed us to pay attention to the relational aspects of research uptake and to invest in relations with representatives of policy and practice. This enabled us to tailor our communications to the specific needs of these audiences. Research into the networked governance of the health sector by Aembe Bwimana and into livelihood strategies by Gloria Nguya both fostered the type of relationships that allow the researchers to repeatedly meet key-stakeholders and spend time discussing the meaning of their findings for policy and practice.

In addition to the traditional approach of broad messaging to decision-makers, we should also broaden it and seek to complement the efforts to reach audiences with research findings with alternative forms of more lasting research uptake. Here are a number of examples from our work in DRC on how we have done this.

Durable Research Uptake by SLRC in DRC

  1. Strengthening the institutions that enhance evidence-based approaches

In the DRC, the SLRC programme includes a collaboration between a Netherlands-based university and the Institut Supérieur de Développement Rural in Bukavu. Joint production of evidence and research papers, and shared investment in research networks helped strengthen the institutional pillars of the ISDR. Through the SLRC, the collaboration resulted in an initiative to jointly set-up a Centre of Research and Expertise on Gender and Development (CREGED). The centre is hosted by ISDR and supported by different universities and NGOs in South Kivu, as well as by the Institute of Social Studies.DSC_0349.JPG

  1. Strengthen individual researchers through PhD trajectories

Because the SLRC is a long-term programme, we were able to offer a number of the researchers a PhD scholarship. These researchers advanced their academic skills through fieldwork in a programme that was also pro-development and pro-poor. We placed a premium on research uptake as well as academic excellence. Thus the SLRC has helped foster a generation of grounded, practice-oriented PhD holders who, we hope, will further advance the research principles that are at the core of the SLRC.

While finishing their theses, Aembe Bwimana and Gloria Nguya have both invested in building relations with development actors. Gloria has done an internship with UN-WIDER in Helsinki, and when Aembe was conducting research into performance-based financing he collaborated closely with the NGO Cordaid.

  1. Incorporate research findings in the curricula of higher education

When research findings reach higher education curricula, they can resound for years and inspire students that may well be future decision-makers in policy and practice. And years (rather than one-off research conferences) is what it takes to achieve durable impact. The DRC team is currently planning to develop a Master’s course on gender and development, partially grounded in the findings of our research.

This initiative has been taken on by ISDR, in collaboration with a national network of gender studies that is based in Kinshasa and CREGED is preparing to offer this course in the next academic year.


As the DRC struggles to make its way through another difficult time in its troubled history, we look forward to hearing further perspectives on how to translate knowledge into policy and practice and to the challenge of using our future research findings to see how we can further improve our research uptake.