Philosophy of Great Lakes Restoration    

We at GLR have developed what we believe is a somewhat unique philosophy as to the problems of the Great Lakes region and their solution. In the context of “Building the Peace”, we believe that both problems and solutions revolve around three inter-related issues: peace, sustainability
and geography.

To deal with the latter, first, it almost goes without saying that in many ways, the eastern provinces of the DRC are more closely tied, especially economically, to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, than to the rest of the DRC. An obvious example being that much of the still-ongoing warfare in the DRC, was a result of the genocidal conflict exported from Rwanda in the mid-1990’s. Therefore, while our initial focus is concentrated on the Bukavu area of South-Kivu Province in the eastern DRC ultimate success probably rests with solutions that engage, grow and complement solutions throughout the region.

Peace, in our view, is the sine qua non of success. Although open warfare has largely come to an end since 2005, conditions are such that the current situation might be termed an armed truce. Our projects, therefore, include a component of “peacebuilding.”  We seek solutions that promote the rule of law over the rule of the gun; employment in peaceful, productive pursuits as opposed to warfare; and, hope for the future as opposed to the despair of disease and starvation. If all of the communities of the region can not be brought to recognize the value of peace, then we fear that, once an economic margin above the subsistence level is achieved, the Great Lakes region will slide back into some form of continuing tribal or ethnic warfare (for example, similar to Nigeria).

Finally, sustainability of long term, positive results is a must.  So often in the past well-meaning, emergency relief efforts have had “band-aide” results; ongoing multiple band-aides, but nonetheless the efforts have focused on treating the symptoms as opposed to healing the causes. Does the world need another Lebanon in the Kivu provinces of the DRC? Will donors continue to fund projects for year after year without any tangible improvement in conditions?  Our projects include a module that addresses this issue; to the end that beneficiaries will ultimately be able to go forward without further assistance.

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