Mapping interests in conflict areas: Katanga. Update September-November 2007Steven Spittaels & Filip Hilgert, January 2008
The International Peace Information Service (IPIS), a Belgium based research NGO, is a member of the Fatal Transactions consortium, which carries out the action 'From Fatal to Fair Transactions' with co-funding from the EU. IPIS' contribution to this action is to develop a tool for the analysis of conflict drivers. Making use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software, we visualise possible conflict motives on geographical maps and carry out field research to complete the picture with violent incidents, human rights violations and positions of armed groups (rebels and regular army units). Every set of maps is accompanied by a narrative report, which provides details on the conflict dynamics in the area under scrutiny.
A first case study was carried out on the mineral-rich province of Katanga in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It reports on the situation in January-May 2007 and is available online at the IPIS website: http://www.ipisresearch.be/mapping_katanga.php. The Dutch NGO 'Nederlands Instituut voor Zuidelijk Afrika' (NIZA) provided additional funding for updating this case study during a year (September 2007 to September 2008). This report is the first in a series of quarterly updates. The information for the updates is drawn from permanent field research carried out by four Katangese NGOs. These NGOs are based in different parts of Katanga and their research activities for this project cover the militarised territories of the province.
During the last decade the world has witnessed how the DRC, a country endowed with an abundance of mineral riches, turned into a battleground where the control over these riches was one of the main rationales behind massive human rights violations, terror tactics of rape and even cannibalism, and the killing of millions of civilians. Elections in 2006 have not yet led to stability in the Kivu provinces and the Ituri district. In North-Kivu high-intensity conflict continues to inflict suffering on the local population. This report shows that, although the level of conflict there is less intense, also the Katanga province is far from stable. Mayi-Mayi rebel groups, local communities, indigenous people and the regular army (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC) compete over the access to sources of income. The dynamics of local 'greed' and 'survival' motivations are driven by continuous discoveries of new mineral deposits, mainly of coltan, a mineral used in capacitors found in cell phones, personal computers, DVD players and game consoles. It needs to be stressed that the regular army, in terms of human rights violations, is as much a part of the problem as are the 'rebel groups' they contend with.