The project Female Empowerment in Eastern DRC is proceeding according to the plan laid out in the initial kick-off meeting of the project team in January. We have spent some time on further developing the work packages – particularly conceptualization of key concepts, deciding on research sites and selection criteria, and the research design. In June, two Focus Group discussions have been carried out as a pilot study.

Background information collected

We have spent some time on collecting background information about various locations in South Kivu, DRC. This was presented in a report by the ICART team, and constituted a basis for research site selection from both substantive research packages in the project. The ICART team has also carried out interviews and done fact-finding about various support programs for survivors of sexual violence. The purpose was to gain a better understanding of how the different programs work, what they focus on, who their beneficiaries are, and where they have activities. We were also interested in mapping how the different programs perceive the reinsertion and reintegration process. This information was presented to the entire team in a project report in April.

Pilot: Focus Groups

On May 21–June 6 PRIO researcher Ragnhild Nordås visited Bukavu to assist with carrying out an initial pilot study. On June 2, two Focus Group interviews with female sexual violence survivors who have been involved in the suppot programme Dorcas Rurale were carried out in Bunyakiri, South Kivu. The structure and questions for the Focus Group discussions were developed by the members of the ICART team and Ragnhild (PRIO) in Bukavu with input from other members of the research team. The questions were then translated to French, Swahili and Kitembo. Aline and Amani from ICART led the Focus groups, with assistance from research assistants Rosalie and Ali. Very interesting and valuable insights were gained from the group discussions, and this has given us valuable lessons and ideas for developing the research further. Some additional focus groups will be carried out over the next 1-2 months. Based on the lessons from the focus group, we are now in the process of developing individual survey questionnaires.

Planning the focus groups: Clockwise from left: Susanne, Rosalie, Tina, Amani and Ragnhild.

Training in October

Based on discussions in the research team and meetings with faculty and administrative staff at the Universite Evangelique en Afrique (UEA) in Bukavu, we are now in the process of planning an intensive 3-week training in Bukavu in October, which will be a key part of Work Package 1 on Capacity Building. UEA and their newly established faculty of social science have identified various challenges they are facing in the training that they are able to offer, and in their research capacity. They have therefore welcomed this initiative to provide training for faculty and advances students. The topics that will be covered in the training include lectures on peace and conflict research, conflict-related sexual violence, peacebuilding and challenges to peace. We will also conduct a series of methods-related training on qualitative and quantitative research methods, research ethics, and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in social science research; as well as an intensive course in academic writing. The training will take place in Bukavu, South Kivu, from 13 October to 2 November. On 17 June, the PRIO team and associated experts, Carl Henrik Knutsen (University of Oslo), Ingrid Samset (University of Limerick) and Angelique Awa, had a workshop planning in more detail the different components of the October training.