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Dimitra Clubs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: improving the prospects for local peace

A community-driven model reinforcing conflict prevention and resilience in the Tanganyika Province

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa, with an estimated population of 85 million people. Despite abundant natural resources, 13.1 million people are severely food insecure –15.5 percent of the rural population (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 2018). Almost 5 million children under five are acutely malnourished, 2.2 million severely. Conflict and intercommunal violence have made DRC the single African country most affected by population displacement. According to the 2019 Global Report on Food Crises, there are 3 million internally displaced and 4.5 million returnees in the provinces of Kasai, Central Kasai, Eastern Kasai, Lomami, Sankuru, South Kivu and Tanganyika, in addition to 534 828 refugees and asylum seekers mainly from Burundi, the Central African Republic, Rwanda and South Sudan.

Women and youth, particularly young girls, have paid the highest price in the conflict, causing major difficulties in staple food production and marketing systems. Women also face disproportionate economic, social, and health challenges, including limited access to income, land, education and reproductive healthcare. Reports have highlighted an increase in cases of sexual abuse and early marriage, and women victims of sexual and gender-based violence face complete marginalization.

The Tanganyika province is among the most affected by food insecurity and malnutrition and some of its territories are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In addition to conflict, food insecurity is caused by a decline in agricultural production due to fall armyworm infestations (particularly in maize-growing areas), floods and insufficient rains, and limited access to land and inputs. Intercommunal rivalries between the Bantu and the Twa – sparked in 2014 during a struggle over natural resources – have worsened since 2016. Resulting armed conflicts have wiped out the few remaining social infrastructures, leading to a climate of fear and the displacement of more than 600 000 Bantu and Twa. Social cohesion, especially in the territories of Nyunzu and Kabalo, is under serious threat.

As part of a joint programme between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), FAO implemented the Dimitra Clubs, a gender-transformative approach aimed at improving rural livelihoods and gender equality through collective action and self-help. This document explores how Dimitra Clubs contributed to improving social cohesion and prospects for local peace in the Tanganyika Province in DRC.


  • On gender: Dimitra Clubs are a gender-transformative approach aimed at improving rural livelihoods and gender equality through collective action and self-help. 173 Dimitra Clubs were created in Tanganyika province, accounting for a total of 4 000 members, half of whom are women. They have encouraged behavioural changes in gender roles, representing important steps toward more equitable relations between men and women at household and community levels. For example, young men now collect fuelwood and water, tasks previously seen as the sole responsibility of women and girls. The Dimitra Clubs thus contribute to women’s leadership and self-esteem. Moreover, the improved communication between women and men and the changes in social norms and relations help reduce gender-based violence.
  • On the HDP nexus: This intervention operationalizes the humanitarian—development—peace nexus through an integrated, resilience-building, community-based, multi-partner approach. The rehabilitation and recovery of community social infrastructures destroyed in the war can be instrumental in sustaining peace in DRC. In Katwangaba (Nyunzu), home to both Twa and Bantu, the village school for Twa and Bantu children was burnt down in 2018 after villagers fled the conflict. Dimitra Club members embarked on its joint reconstruction, mobilising the community to rebuild two school buildings, make bricks and raise funds to buy straw and pay the bricklayers, reviving a powerful tool for peace consolidation. Dimitra Clubs are key players in conflict resolution and improving prospects for local peace.
  • On land: A lack of clear land rights and well-defined boundaries can cause conflict between neighboring communities and in the case of this intervention Twa and Bantu clashed over bush fires in multiple occasions. Twa are traditionally hunter-gatherers and used to work as labourers on Bantu farms. A marginalized group that has long been denied access to land and basic services, Twa relied heavily on food assistance and were forced to forage in Bantu-owned fields, reviving longstanding tensions.
  • On conflict-sensitive programming: FAO and WFP implementing partners have been heavily involved in all project activities. FAO implementing partners, the NGOs Le Zébreau and Comité de Recherche et d’Encadrement des Femmes et Enfants (CREFE) and the WFP Implementing Partner Search for Common Ground (SFCG), an international non-profit organization specialized in conflict resolution, have been working together to provide cross-cutting expertise in conflict transformation, assuring that all project interventions are conflict-sensitive and contribute to peace. To ensure sustainability of sustaining peace processes, the design of Dimitra Club interventions would benefit from a systematic integration of a context/ conflict analysis. This would contribute to the prioritization and potential programmatic entry points while also informing project design, implementation and the monitoring and evaluation framework. Importantly, a comprehensive contextual understanding is integral to conflict-sensitive interventions. For interventions with explicit objectives of contributing to sustaining peace, a context analysis also identifies causality and the drivers of conflict that the intervention seeks to address.
  • On youth: Young club members have benefited from agricultural training through Farmer field schools (FFS), inter-ethnic gardening, and involvement in community-level sporting activities and joint radio broadcasts. Enhanced economic opportunities and spaces of collaboration for youth have increased their income and access to markets to sell their agricultural products while providing new pathways of collaboration between Twa and Bantu.
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