Lobi Mokolo Ya Sika, “Tomorrow is a New Day” is a security sector reform programme which was initiated by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in 2007 and has since been extended numerous times with funding from different donors. The project was developed in response to the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the trauma of past conflicts which led to deep mistrust between the citizens and the security forces. When the project started rape, murder, and looting perpetrated by police and army officers were common, and corruption and impunity within the security forces remains an issue. The project therefore seeks to give civil society groups, community leaders, and members of the public administration the tools and support they need to hold police and military forces accountable in a way that mitigates future conflict. Over the years SFCG has adopted a multi-pronged approach using participatory trainings and innovative multi-media programming to achieve its objectives. The current phase (2015 - 2017) builds on previous activities and also includes a television programme called Ndakisa.
During the 10 years of Lobi Mokolo Ya Sika, activities have adjusted to the changing dynamics of the conflict in the DRC, but have essentially focused on the following three objectives:
- Awareness Raising: increased awareness of human rights and conflict transformation, including the relevant laws related to the Military Code, amongst the target brigades;
- Fighting Impunity: through an effective media outreach strategy that promotes accountability, denounces rights violations, and raises awareness about military justice and the dangers of impunity; and
- Collaboration and Solidarity: improved civil-military relations through dialogue, collaborative action, and income generating activities.
The project is based on the following theory of change: if Congolese security forces and civilians gained knowledge and awareness about their roles, rights and mutual responsibilities and if they are able to communicate and interact in a more open, transparent and constructive manner, then, the behaviour, relationships and confidence between them will improve. Therefore, its overall objective is that mutual trust and confidence between civilians and security forces is strengthened as a result of improved conduct of security forces and ability of communities to hold them to account.
Strategies have involved training for Congolese soldiers and the police force on the legal rights of civilians and awareness raising activities for communities on their rights and on how to report abuse, as well as the creation of opportunities for security forces and civilians to dialogue and build trust. This has been facilitated by multi-pronged communication activities which included radio, participatory theatre, and comic books.
Over the last 10 years, the project activities have reached more than 150,000 soldiers and millions of civilians. The current phase of the project builds on these activities and consists of three components:
The first one focuses on establishing avenues for dialogue in the target areas. SFCG led dialogue and conflict transformation sessions for 24 local security councils, and supported the joint design of security plans between the military and civilians. The planning sessions happen in town hall meetings, attended by local government authorities, military and police chiefs, civil society leaders, and regular citizens. These participatory processes help the police improve their work, create a safe environment, and propose innovative solutions.
The second component focuses on outreach and joint development activities that bring together soldiers, police officers, and civilians in order to restore mutual trust, as villagers accused the military of cutting down trees and stealing food. The project team, for example, brought soldiers and civilians together to till a communal field.
The third component is based on the promotion of positive role models through pop culture. This is achieved through the twelve-episode TV drama Ndakisa (meaning role model), which was launched in 2017 on national television. The show’s main character, Commissaire Elombe, fights against crime and the corrupt practices of some of his less virtuous colleagues. Ndakisa also gives the audience a chance to get involved. At the end of each episode, a phone number is promoted which people can call to give feedback and submit questions for police officers. Every month, the project convenes popular radio roundtables in which the police officers answer these questions and produce reports highlighting how the show is changing perceptions. The local team has also instituted the Ndakisa Awards, a community activity in which civil society groups celebrate police officers who exhibit bravery and integrity in their mandate to protect citizens. The projects has also developed, printed, and distributed a new edition of the comic book series Mopila to civilians and security forces (see Related Summaries below).
The Ndakisa television show forms part of a number of media programmes that formed part of this initiative and were designed to shift norms related to security sector reform and civilian protection. Other media activities have included: a radio drama in Lingala and Swahili featuring a cast of military, police and civilian characters, entitled 'Tomorrow is A New Day'. This was broadcast starting in 2006 and continues up to 2017. These radio dramas were also turned into a number of comic books, of which several hundred thousand were produced in Lingala and Swahili and distributed around the country. The initiative also produced a youth game show radio programme over a number of years called 'The Duel of Young Democrats' which pitched two high schools against each other in a game show. The show was recorded and edited, and then broadcast on radio in French. Another programme called 'The Road to Justice' was also broadcast over a number of years. Produced in Lingala and Swahili, it was a magazine/documentary programme which featured cases of real life crimes being pursued, in many instances where police or soldiers were the perpetrators. SFCG also co-produced programmes with the Communications Units of the Police and the Army, so that their programmes are better able to promote respect and collaboration with civilians.
Democracy and governance
In the first phase (2007-9), the programme reached a large number of both civilians and soldiers – in Goma 76% of soldiers had participated in at least one activity, 94% had heard SFCG radio broadcasts, and 97% said they had incorporated the material into the conduct of their duties. Solidarity activities had resulted in a ‘collapse of stereotypes’ and positive changes in attitude. A theatre tour had reportedly reduced rates of arbitrary arrest by between 40 and 70% in locales where it had been performed. 78% of cases recorded by civilian protection committees had been transferred to tribunals. 38% of soldiers reported that comic books had improved their conduct on civilian protection [Final Report to the Dutch Government, August 2009]
A mid-term review in 2016 concluded that knowledge uptake had been effective and led to behaviour change; that there was greater acceptance of security forces in communities, and improved popular perceptions of security and the role of security forces in providing it. 73.6% of a sample of consumers of SFCG media output reported that it had given them the desire to change their behaviour. Figures from 2014 support these findings, showing that the percentage of civilians in a positive relationship with the police was doubled in areas where SFCG worked, that 92% of people felt the FARDC protected them better after SFCG training, and that the numbers of soldiers and police who understood human rights protection went from 23% to 71% following SFCG programmes.
Search for Common Ground (SFCG) is an international conflict transformation NGO that aims to transform the way individuals, groups, governments and companies deal with conflict, away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative solutions. Headquartered in Washington DC, USA, and Brussels, Belgium, with field offices in 35 countries, SFCG designs and implements multifaceted, culturally appropriate and conflict-sensitive programs using a diverse range of tools, including media and training, to promote dialogue, increase knowledge and determine a positive shift in behaviors. SFCG has been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001, with offices in Kinshasa, Kalemie, Bukavu and Goma. The team works in collaboration with a network of civil society, media and government partners across dividing lines to promote positive societal change.