Great Lakes Region

Demining in the DRC. Photo: UNMAS
Looking at reintegration as a long-term process, Burundi introduced an innovative scheme, the 3x6 approach, that is yielding enormous benefits for ex-combatants, returnees and the communities that receive them. Photo: UNDP Burundi
25 women of the Tutaenda soap-making organization in South Kivu, DRC, produce 40 boxes of soap each shift, four times a week.
Farmers from an organization based in South Kivu, DRC, have received two acres of land, machinery, seeds and hens to start their business as part of a UNDP project.

View the Great Lakes Region slideshow by clicking on the images above.


The Great Lakes Region, encompassing Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, north-eastern DRC, and north-western Kenya and Tanzania, has witnessed some of the direst conflicts on the African continent, rooted in longstanding tensions over ethnicity and citizenship, grievances over access to resources, including land and minerals. A total of 56 million people live below the national poverty line in the region, of which 47 million, or 71 per cent, are in the DRC.

Since early 2012, ethnic tensions and inequitable access to land have led to renewed violence in the east and north-east of the DRC, resulting in the internal displacement of more than 2.2 million. Almost 70,000 people have crossed the border into neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

Thousands have become victims of violence and abuse, with women bearing the brunt of the conflict and subsequent humanitarian crisis. Sexual violence against women is one of the main features of the conflict, and between December 2011 and November 2012, the UN documented 764 cases, including 280 children.

Great Lakes Region

Photo: Junior D. Kannah/UNDP DRC
Photo: Junior D. Kannah/UNDP DRC

In Burundi, UNDP is using the 3x6 approach, an innovative response to the social and economic reintegration of ex-combatants, to help set the country on the path to sustainable development. The 3x6 approach assists communities to formulate development plans which articulate priorities such as rebuilding roads, health centres, schools, rehabilitating irrigation and marshlands and other projects. Critical community infrastructure is therefore re-established, benefiting all community members regardless of whether or not they participate directly. UNDP has implemented the approach in Burundi since late 2010 and since then, a total of 12,437 ex-combatants, returning refugees, internally displaced persons and vulnerable households in host communities have benefitted.


In the eastern DRC, UNDP programmes aim to build peace among communities and help them recover fom conflict through job creation and access to basic services, including justuce. UNDP is also providing medical support and helping to empower women and girls who have endured rape. UNDP has established 12 multifunctional community centres in North and South Kivu provinces, two of the areas most affected by conflict which offer mediation, literacy classes, financial advice, work-skills training and other services to more than 4,500 people. Of these participants, 2,000 have joined a community credit union where they learned techniques to save money and were able to access microloans.


In addition, UNDP in Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda is currently involved in a collaborative initiative that aims at rehabilitating the Economic Community of Countries in the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL).


UNDP's approach


In February 2013, 11 African countries (Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, the DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania) and the UN signed on to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Great Lakes Region, a comprehensive plan to tackle violence and create conditions for peace and development. UNDP's support to the Region will therefore focus on recovering livelihoods and reducing vulnerability in support of the Framework's implementation.