Democratic Republic of Congo
Improving health and social services for survivors of sexual violence, their families and community in post-conflict Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took place over a 10-year (1996-2006) period and continue through rebel and military operations where civilians are often the targets of violence – including sexual gender based violence (SGBV). Acts of SGBV were organized and brutal; the rates were particularly high in Eastern DRC. Today, interventions provide health services to survivors although the need for services surpasses their reach. In Walungu Territory, Dr. Nancy Glass, the Great Lakes Restoration and their partner Congolese NGO, the Rama Levina Foundation, provide health services to SGBV survivors. Recently, project volunteers initiated mediation activities to assist in reintegrating survivors with their families and community. With stigma as a result of rape, infertility and fear of disease, this process is complex yet the Congolese health officers have reported some success. This project focuses on assessing methods of reintegration by working with health workers, survivors and families who have been through this activity. The aim is to understand how mediation works and to document the process of mediation in order to develop tools and strategies for scaling up and evaluating the implementation of a family and community mediation program. Documenting strategies is important in order to train more staff, develop formal intervention strategies and tools and evaluate the outcomes of the program. Information from this study will be applicable for the Walungu project and has scope to apply to other post-conflict settings –those with high rates of SGBV and places where post-conflict tensions remain to be addressed.