Ben Affleck wants you to connect with Congolese organizations | 

Men collect water from Lake Kivu in Goma, DRC.
Men collect water from Lake Kivu in Goma, DRC.
Phil Moore/Al Jazeera

Actor and activist Ben Affleck believes that community-based organizations are the best option for enabling lasting change in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

That is why his organization, the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) teamed up with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to create an easy-to-use database of Congolese community-based organizations.

“There are big NGOs that I think do very good work, but when I did research around Congo and other countries what I saw, what I found, was that the people doing the best work, with the real expertise, who understood what was needed intuitively, just like they would in my neighborhood, who knew who the guy was to talk to, were community-based organizations,” said Affleck.

Rather than seek funding for his pet project, as other celebrities might do, Affleck and ECI wanted to create a place where the organizations that are going to make the greatest difference will receive direct funding. It puts into action the much talked about idea of supporting community leaders to create change for themselves.

The information comes from a landscape analysis of community-based organizations (CBOs) carried out by ECI in 2011. Information from Congo’s Maniema, North Kivu, Orientale, and South Kivu provinces provide an avenue for providing direct support in the troubled region.
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Five reasons why you might be confused about Congo | 

Flickr, dag

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

Congo makes a lot of people feel like the hapless Mr. Jones in Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man:

“You know something’s happening but you don’t know what it is.”

For example:

The news today out of Congo is that the Rwandan-backed rebels  — known either as M23 or the Congolese Revolutionary Army, who have been fighting with the official (non-revolutionary) Congolese Army and against other militias made up of Rwandans who years ago fled to Congo during the genocide — have decided not to withdraw from the city of Goma.  As the AP reports:

The delay raises the possibility that the M23 rebels don’t intend to leave the city they seized last week, giving credence to a U.N. expert report that says neighboring Rwanda is using the rebels as a proxy to annex territory in mineral-rich eastern Congo.


UN peacekeepers evacuate children from Goma, Congo

One thing that’s fairly safe to predict when it comes to these chronic conflicts in the eastern provinces of DR Congo (the ‘DR’ now perhaps standing for Destructively Repetitious as opposed to Democratic Republic) is that the players there almost never do what they say they’re going to do and whatever they report to outsiders is such a house-of-mirrors they could work for Congress.

So, I have decided to prepare a list of key points to keep in mind when reading about conflict in the Congo. Continue reading