Local Initiatives in the African Great Lakes Region: Community Voices and Sustainable Development

The research for this study was undertaken in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo during the latter part of 1997, three years after the crisis in Rwanda. The study is not an analysis of the crisis of 1994, despite the fact that these events always loom large in the background. Representatives of roughly fifty organizations, both local and international, were interviewed. Our goal was to give a voice to all those directly involved with justice and reconciliation, development and reconstruction, and with those searching for long-term solutions to the problems of the Great Lakes region of Africa. The massacres have greatly affected the demographic balance of Rwanda and Burundi; for example, the proportion of women in Rwanda has passed from 51% to 70% of the total population. Because of this factor and because women continue to have a major role to play in the reconstruction of their country, we have given them a special place in our research. They form a new majority and circumstances are forcing them to take on responsibilities traditionally reserved for men.