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Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

A woman shows and educational guide to other women at a training
In Kasai, Oriental Province, women led a civic and voter education session with USAID support in preparation for historic national elections.
USAID/A. Luyoyo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is entering a critical period in its democratic transition, which began in 2006 with a new constitution. The 2011 elections were fraught with charges of fraud, and the upcoming elections face numerous political and logistical hurdles. Poor governance is deeply rooted in nearly every sector and at all levels of society. The World Bank’s indicators for government effectiveness and control of corruption in the DRC declined between 2008 and 2014, suggesting that corruption is getting worse. Corruption has a devastating impact on the Congolese government’s ability to manage the country’s vast wealth and deliver basic social services to its citizens. The justice sector repeatedly fails to bring recourse to citizens, partly due to internal weaknesses and lack of resources.

Increased transparency and accountability of government in the DRC are a priority for USAID/DRC’s 2015-2019 Country Development Cooperation Strategy. All USAID sector activities promote participation, inclusion, transparency, and accountability in national and local institutions to support the long-term transition in the DRC to more effective and empowering development. Results achieved through USAID will not be sustainable unless Congolese actors, both within and outside the government, take ownership of reform processes and govern better.

Current Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance assistance helps ensure that elections are free, fair, and credible, and that citizens have improved access to information so that they may participate fully in the democratic process and make more informed decisions. USAID provides technical assistance and training to political parties so that they are able to better represent and respond to citizens’ concerns, improve internal and campaign management, and include women and youth in decision-making. USAID enables select Congolese civic groups to educate citizens about the rights and roles of voters in a peaceful and inclusive electoral process in order to increase citizen participation in advocacy and politics. USAID works directly with the local Episicopal Commission for Justice and Peace to train election observers, and provides technical assistance to the Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante, the independent entity responsible for scheduling and organizing elections. USAID strengthens the capacity of national-level justice actors, the courts, and civil society organizations to conduct legal education, provide legal services, and monitor and respond to human rights violations, including electoral disputes. Finally, USAID increases Congolese citizens’ access to information by improving the quality and management of media through training media professionals, assisting media outlets, and strengthening legal protections for journalists.

USAID is designing new activities to help the DRC government and Congolese people revise the voter roll; establish and implement laws, policies, and procedures to improve the political decentralization process; and increase the capability of provincial and local governments, and civil society, to improve the delivery of public services.