Rubaya (North Kivu): The mines must be a part of the development!
To have access to Rubaya, one must follow an itinerary that snakes at the heart of the Masisi territory, which is 63 kilometers from Goma, the provincial capital. If this serene show of herd of cows and hills seems idyllic, the hidden truth behind this destination is something else.
The deplorable state of the road infrastructure is the first noticeable sign of chronic instability in North Kivu, a region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which makes headlines since several months.
On the way to Masisi, there are only a few remains of bitumen, and, due to a lack of maintenance, more and more bridges risk of collapsing – as seen in Bihambwe, one of the main traffic light controlled crossroads to Rubaya.
And there is the arrival in Rubaya, a city surrounded by hills, which the grounds are full of geological wealth. The entrance of the city is marked by white tents where the camp consists of moved interns. The insecurity of the territory has caused a massive flow of individuals coming from surrounding villages.
Today, the Rubaya zone has nearly a population of 100 000 people. The main economic activity is underground mining, practiced in extreme dangerous conditions.
Consolidated peace in the mining zone of Rubaya
- Total budget for the project: USD 6 476 831, financed by the government of Japan and the Swedish Agency for International Development (for the improvement activities of access to water and sanitation).
- The project has structured 5 local committees of peace and conciliation and 3 local youth councils, in charge of finding solutions for social conflicts at the community level.
- 125 individuals have been trained for prevention conflicts
- 122 conflicts have been solved by the local committees of peace and conciliation since the beginning of the project (rate of conflict solving: 67%)
The Review Committee of Mining Act and Corruption Act allowed 70 diggers to have a better understanding of their rights and legal framework of mining exploitation in DRC. A local radio which will cover the entire mining zone is in progress.
Subject to precarious life conditions, the residents are also threatened by inter-communities tensions renewed by armed conflicts which enamelled the region of the Great Lakes for over 20 years.
Reinforce social cohesion
It is in the latter that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) have developed a joint project to reinforce social cohesion and accessibility of means of livelihood in the mining zone of Rubaya.
The project, entitled “Consolidated Peace in the Artisanal Mining zone of North Kivu”, is looking in particular at reducing tensions within communities, fostering long lasting development by providing basic social services and improving livelihood means of the population.
The UNPD, with the help of one of its implemented partners, Search for Common Ground (SFCG), is looking to reinforce social cohesion in the Rubaya community in particular with the organizing community bodies.
“Allow the contribution of the development of our community”
Aimable Muneza, the president of the Review Committee of the Mining Act and Corruption Act, welcomes us in a small room used by different associations from the city. He explains: “We are working for raising awareness among the diggers, the negotiators, the authorities of different norms, which can allow improving the lives of Rubaya residents.
These norms concern as much as the improvement of the quality of work conditions in the mining sites than the lifting of economic restrictions that weights on the income of the diggers.
“For example, farmers have been accusing miners of not following the limits of their parcels to access the mining sites; our efforts of mediation among miners have allowed the constructions of roads that have not interfered with the fields”.
The Committee also conducts monthly informative meetings in order to apply Congolese legislation with regards to mining exploitation and to allow diggers to defend their rights.
“Our wish and our pride would be to allow contributing to develop our community, to be useful for society” summarizes Aimable.
In addition to creating conciliation communities organizations such as the Review Committee of Corruption Act, the United Nations Programme Development also foresees the construction of essential infrastructures as well as creating a community radio and two centres of professional training that will benefit the people of the Rubaya region.
To these activities are added those led by the FAO that have as a goal concerning the improvement of livelihood means and the food security in the entire mining zone.
UNICEF is focusing on the reinforcement of the access of basic social services (education, health, improved access to water and to sanitation), in particular those aimed at women and children.
The project “Consolidated peace in Artisanal Mining zone of North Kivu” fits into the International Security and Stabilization Support Strategy (ISSSS), which supports the achievement of Stabilization and Reconstruction Plan for Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Aimable benefits from a finance of USD 6 476 821 from the government of Japan ‑ as well as the contribution of the Swedish Agency for International Development (SAID) for the improvement of access to spring water and sanitation.