The Media Sector Development Project (MSDP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is helping to build the capacity of targeted media outlets and associations to provide reliable, objective news and information that contribute to stronger civic participation, and democratic governance in DRC. Over the course of the project, we have worked with over 53 radio stations and media outlets across the county. Internews continues to support the process of adopting the Access to Information and the Media laws in Parliament. We also partner with leading women in the media organization UCOFEM to protect and promote women in media. The Swiss funded project Free and responsible: protect press freedom for the democratic debate in the DRC is complementary to MSDP.
Through the Fundamental Freedoms Fund (FFF), Internews is implementing a 6- month project called Congo News. The goal of this project is to provide citizens in the DRC with accurate, impartial information on the ongoing political process from moderate voices who will encourage peaceful debate and discourse. Increasing access to crucial and conflict sensitive information will empower citizens and help them to make peaceful decisions in a difficult political situation and avoid a repetition of violence.
Since April 2015, political violence in Burundi has resulted in more than 300,000 Burundian refugees fleeing into neighboring countries. More than 32,000 Burundians have taken refuge in the province of South Kivu in the DRC in unstable areas bordering Burundi in a camp located in Lusenda. Like all of eastern DRC, these areas are home to Congolese, Rwandan or Burundian armed groups. These Burundian groups are divided – some support and some oppose President Nkurunziza.
Tensions between host communities and Burundi refugees are high. With funding from the European Union, Internews’ Young Burundian Refugees for Peace and Stability project (French Translation: Jeunes réfugiés burundais pour l’information, le dialogue et la coexistence pacifique) will work to create the conditions for peaceful cohabitation and resilience to the conflict environment from its Bukavu office. Young people from both communities will produce independent information useful to both communities, particularly targeting women through its partnership with the Association of Media Women of South Kivu (AFEM-SK). Through partnerships in neighboring countries (Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda), Internews will foster information flows among Burundian refugee communities in the Great Lakes region. Internews will also organize public debates in camps and host communities to help resolve conflicts between the two communities.
Finally, through the U.S. Department of State, Internews in DRC has recently signed a project – Women’s Voices for Peaceful Democratic Dialogue – that focuses on significant gaps in women’s knowledge about their political rights, women’s underrepresentation or misrepresentation in the media, and women leaders’ and civil society’s limited access to media to discuss public decisions.