The Resurgence of CBOs in Eastern Congo

The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) exists in an indeterminate space between war and peace. There has been considerable progress on the security front, especially compared to a decade ago, when foreign armies and domestic armed groups occupied and plundered the region. Yet the path to peace has been incomplete, and many promises about development and democratization have gone unfulfilled.

One positive development in the past few years has been the resurgence of community-based organizations (CBOs), many of which had been forced to scale back their work during the most intense years of war. In a country with historically weak state institutions and virtually nonexistent public services, CBOs have provided important health and education services, promoted social equity and economic development, and protected the environment and the interests of DRC’s most vulnerable populations. The international community has supported the growth in size and scope of eastern DRC’s community groups, enabling them to meet vital social needs, but many challenges remain.

Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) is a grant making, capacity building and advocacy organization entirely focused on working with and for the people of Democratic Republic of Congo. ECI cultivates long-term relationships with organizations supporting economic and social development opportunities for the people of eastern Congo. We are not a direct implementer; rather we intentionally empower pre-identified community-based organizations to execute community driven projects.

Core Grant-Making Focus Areas

Since its inception, ECI has given grantsto 23 Congolese organizations working in North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale provinces. ECI is not a direct implementer; rather we work with Congolese-led organizations to effectively execute locally driven projects. ECI cultivates collaborative relationships with organizations supporting economic and social development opportunities for the people of DRC. We are proud to have invested in the following remarkable Congolese organizations working to improve their communities: 

Action for Hope (ADE), AFEM, Centre Olame, Children’s Voice, Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC), Congolese Coalition for Transitional Justice (CCTJ), Dynamique de Femmes Juristes (DFJ), Forum of Ituri Women (FOMI), HEAL Africa, ICCN, Mutaani FM, Network for Security Sector Reform & Justice (RRSSJ), Panzi Foundation, Panzi Hospital, Promotion of Youth Basketball (PJB), SOCOAC/Green House, SFVS, Synergy/CREDDHO, Un Jour Nouveau, Yole! Africa.

ECI’s grant-making focuses on four key areas fundamental to strengthening the social and economic capacity of the Congolese to shape their own future:

Economic Development

ECI supports local organizations training vulnerable youth and former child soldiers in basic education and job skills to help them create a stable economic future for themselves and their families.

ECI works with rural farmers to improve the quality and quantity of crops while leveraging investment for expansion to international and local markets.

ECI works with local organizations to integrate conservation and rural agriculture to revitalize local markets and household economic stability.

Maternal and Child Health

ECI partners with local organizations that focus on mothers, children under five and infants by supporting the development of community-based preventative healthcare systems and practices.

In addition to training healthcare professionals, ECI’s grantees support the delivery of basic services (providing bed nets, education on importance of hygiene) and the development of insurance cooperatives that support women’s access to health.

Access to Justice

ECI supports local organizations facilitating access to social and legal aid services for vulnerable populations, particularly girls and women, and provides community-level legal and human rights education.

Access to Higher Education

ECI supports local organizations that equip promising young students, particularly girls and women with academic opportunities and access to technology and media, to provide these future leaders with the skills to create jobs and develop media platforms for access to increased independent and educational information.



ECI emphasizes the importance of field-based and scholarly research to support evidence-based programming and advocacy initiatives. ECI seeks to produce data, a collection of best practices, and a set of recommendations to better inform programming and policy driven by those who know the issues best – the communities and actors affected.

Media and Access to Information

ECI utilizes multiple media platforms, particularly radio and journalist training, to increase access to educational and independent information.  By integrating innovative media into all sectoral programs ECI believes that rural farmers, vulnerable populations, youth, girls and women will be provided additional access to critical information that will help inform improve their future. 

Capacity Building

ECI’s grant-making strategy incorporates capacity building of organizations and personnel of local partners so that they will increase their efficacy, impact, and increased ability to implement programming in order to obtain direct funding from international donors. Capacity building of local CBOs is essential to creating a sustainable and successful society in eastern DRC. ECI has developed a capacity building strategy that is being implemented with all grantees to boost their technical and administrative skills.

Public-Private Partnerships

ECI strives to combine direct grant-making with public/private partnerships to increase the quality and quantity of investment into DRC. This strategy aims to identify and establish best practices and replicate these proven models.  ECI will focus on funding promising practice interventions in order to scale and reduce poverty through the development of economic opportunities; as well as improve the lives of millions through improves health systems strengthening and supporting the technical implementation of sectoral projects.

To learn more about the Community-based Organizations (CBOs) making a difference in Eastern Congo, check out ECI’s Landscape Analysis Report and online CBO Database.

*Eastern Congo Initiative does not accept unsolicited requests.