That is why his organization, the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) teamed up with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to create an easy-to-use database of Congolese community-based organizations.
“There are big NGOs that I think do very good work, but when I did research around Congo and other countries what I saw, what I found, was that the people doing the best work, with the real expertise, who understood what was needed intuitively, just like they would in my neighborhood, who knew who the guy was to talk to, were community-based organizations,” said Affleck.
Rather than seek funding for his pet project, as other celebrities might do, Affleck and ECI wanted to create a place where the organizations that are going to make the greatest difference will receive direct funding. It puts into action the much talked about idea of supporting community leaders to create change for themselves.
The information comes from a landscape analysis of community-based organizations (CBOs) carried out by ECI in 2011. Information from Congo's Maniema, North Kivu, Orientale, and South Kivu provinces provide an avenue for providing direct support in the troubled region.
The Congolese army continues to fight with the M23 rebel group that managed to seize control of the major city of Goma at one point last year. A UN peacekeeping mission meant to provide support has come under criticism for its inability to deter fighting. Sexual violence and abuses at the hand of rebels and the Congolese military have further complicated the situation.
Attention has focused on the region the past few years thanks to advocacy efforts from the likes of the Enough Project and stories telling of atrocities committed by armed groups. A report linking Rwanda and Congolese rebels late last year led the UN to appoint former Irish president Mary Robinson as the new Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. She is now working with neighboring countries, including Rwanda, to implement the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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