Rift Valley Institute

The Rift Valley Institute (RVI) is an independent, non-profit organization, founded in Sudan in 2001, currently working in seven countries in Eastern and Central Africa. The aim of the Institute is to advance useful knowledge of the region and its diverse communities, bringing a better understanding of local realities to bear on social and political action. The RVI works with institutions in the region to develop and implement long-term programmes that combine action-oriented research with education and public information.

Email: institute@riftvalley.net
26 St. Lukes Mews London W11 1DF United Kingdom
Rift Valley Institute (RVI) PO Box 52771 GPO 00100 Nairobi Kenya
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Policy and Research Papers

Burundi at the Crossroads

On Tuesday, 7 July 2015, the Nairobi Forum convened a panel to discuss the political crisis that has gripped Burundi since the ruling CNDD-FDD party announced its nomination of President Pierre Nkurunziza to run for a third term in April 2015—a move many Burundians believe contravenes the Constitution.

This paper presents key developments of the past year and key reasons why Burundi is right now at the Crossroads with risk of the current political crisis escalating into civil war.


Contesting Authority: Armed rebellion and military fragmentation in Walikale and Kalehe, North and South Kivu


This report from the Rift Valley Institute analyses the involvement of the armed groups in public life in the territories of Kalehe and Walikale in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The current political and military landscape in these territories, defined by the presence of armed groups and the consequent fragmentation of local authority, is mainly caused by unresolved tensions between and within communities over territory, authority and resources; the lack of capacity of the Congo’s state services to provide protection; and the limited success of reintegration efforts. The report explores how these armed groups are embedded in local communities, how they are connected to local power struggles and how they are involved in the exercise of local authority, including in the fields of security, dispute resolution and revenue generation. Armed groups are able to mobilize popular support by evoking two issues of existential importance to local communities—marginalization and security. While the former revolves around the historical marginalization of local communities in politics and governance, the latter frames local communities as in need of protection. These issues give meaning to armed groups’ bids for local authority and legitimize their engagement in a wide range of governmental practices normally ascribed to the state, such as taxation and the provision of justice and security.

Armed groups have evolved into dominant power brokers, which are deeply involved with ruling territory, people and resources. They have become part and parcel of local and sometimes national power dynamics, have colluded with local and national political and customary leaders, and have developed different techniques and strategies to impose or sustain their authority. The end result is further militarization and fragmentation of public space and social interactions.

To access the Contesting Authority: Armed rebellion and military fragmentation in Walikale and Kalehe, North and South Kivu report, kindly follow the link.


Les femmes, le conflit et l’autorité publique au Congo

rift valley institute women congo

Ce document d'information de l'Institut de la Vallée du Rift par Jeroen Cuvelier et Marie-Rose Bashwira explore le rôle des femmes dans l'autorité publique au Congo et dans les dynamiques de conflit. Les auteurs présentent ainsi les liens entre autorité publique locale et genre au Congo, en soulignant le fait que les femmes, bien que peu visibles, exercent bien une certaine influence dans la sphère coutumière. Les auteurs exposent ensuite le rôle que les femmes peuvent jouer lors des conflits, qui n'est pas nécessairement pacifique par nature. Enfin, le document aborde la question du rôle des femmes dans l'exercice du pouvoir, et de la manière d'améliorer la place des femmes dans le domaine politique. Les auteurs défendent une approche qui met l'accent sur les droit fondamental à la participation au pouvoir plutôt que basée sur des arguments instrumentalisant les qualités des femmes, supposément plus pacifiques et efficaces que leurs homologues masculins.

Pour accéder au document d'information Les femmes, le conflit et l’autorité publique au Congo du Rift Valley Institute, veuillez suivre le lien.


«Pas juste une question de terres»: Litiges et conflits fonciers dans l’est du Congo

Le présent document d’information publié par Rift Valley Institute fait valoir qu’un grand nombre de litiges fonciers ne sont pas qu’une question de terres, mais sont une manifestation de la crise de la gouvernance qui sévit en RDC. En fait, dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), les litiges fonciers sont considérés à la fois comme une source majeure et un facteur important de conflit. Ils sont aussi de nature très diverse, de même que les types et les niveaux de violence qui leur sont associés. Il est donc primordial de reconnaître ces différences pour trouver des solutions adaptées à cette source de tensions permanente.

Pour accéder à « Pas juste une question de terres »: Litiges et conflits fonciers dans l’est du Congo , utilité à démontrer veuillez cliquer sur le lien.


Stabilization in Eastern and Central Africa: Insights from Somalia, South Sudan and the DRC

RVI Stabilsation

This Meeting Report by the Rift Valley Institute (RVI) presents highlights from a two-day regional conference organised in 2014 with the University of Gothenburg. The conference took place in Kenya and assembled participants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia and South Sudan as well as academics and specialists from Europe and North America. The gathering sought to question, review, evaluate and exchange lessons on stabilisation programmes in the DRC, Somalia and South Sudan with the aim of informing policies that enhance peace and security in eastern and central Africa. 

Rather than presenting the debates and their conclusions in full, this report gives a central space to voices from countries that are subject to stabilisation programmes and complements their statements, explanations and clarifications with those of regional and international specialists and experienced practitioners in international aid, development and stabilization.

To access the RVI Meeting Report Stabilization in Eastern and Central Africa: Insights from Somalia, South Sudan and the DRC, kindly follow the link.


Recycling Rebels? Demobilisation in the Congo

Since the Second Congo War (1998–2003), the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Congolese civil society have attempted, with the support of international partners, to tackle consecutive cycles of armed mobilisation. Amidst other peace efforts, a key strategy has always been the DDR of combatants. This briefing by the Rift Valley Institute analyses why and how previous DDR processes have failed, and provides a sketch of the current state of affairs and future prospects for demobilisation. It reviews the impact of CONADER and the potential of DDR III, focusing on the role of combatants, commanders and politicians. In particular, the briefing discusses incentives for armed groups to join demobilisation programmes under conditions of high insecurity and distrust, as well as the relationship between demobilisation and remobilisation. The briefing argues that a holistic approach to DDR is needed, which would make it part of a genuine effort at social transformation and reform of the security sector, which in turn casts doubts on its feasibility within the current context of political competition and insecurity in the DRC.

For the full report on Recycling Rebels? Demobilisation in the Congo, kindly follow the link.


Placing everyday police life at the heart of reform in Bukavu

Security sector reform has been a central component of post-conflict reconstruction and development programmes, and the restoration of state authority since the 1990s. However, these reforms have rarely been successful in the long run. In the DRC, police reform has been a staple of statebuilding and governance strengthening efforts. Despite some reform successes, however, the Congolese National Police largely remains a reflection of the state. It is mostly unaccountable to those it is meant to serve, and used as a tool by some to extract resources and protect elite interests.

As a key state institution, sustainable reform of the police is impossible without a considerable overhaul of the larger governance framework of which it is part. While acknowledging this major systemic challenge, this briefing suggests that there may nevertheless be some more modest, yet impactful, gains to be made through police reform. By focusing on the everyday work and life of police personnel, future reforms could contribute to changing police behaviour on the streets and in police stations, at the interface between the police and the population where it may arguably matter most.

Based on seven months of qualitative research on the PNC conducted in Bukavu between 2016 and 2017, this briefing argues that targeted police reforms, informed and driven by local actors, can affect change, and often in a more sustainable—and financially viable—fashion than past large-scale donor-driven reform support programmes.