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In January, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) convened a week-long strategic planning retreat in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Attended by more than 50 DRC- and Washington, DC-based ABA ROLI staff, as well as representatives of partner non-governmental organizations and government agencies, the gathering allowed participants to reflect on ABA ROLI’s work over the past five years. Attendees assessed ongoing efforts, opportunities and challenges, and explored ways in which program activities could be strengthened and expanded.
ABA ROLI’s Country Director, Charles Guy Makongo, (center left) leads a discussion with staff about how to monitor and evaluate programs.
“The retreat gave staff from both DC and DRC a real sense of investment in the current success and future direction of ABA ROLI’s work in DRC,” said Amanda Rawls, ABA ROLI’s senior program manager.
Launched in January 2008, ABA ROLI’s work in the DRC initially focused on fighting impunity for sexual violence. Over the years, ABA ROLI has worked with Congolese civil society groups to provide 16,380 survivors of sexual violence with legal counseling—9,494 of whom have subsequently filed claims in the Congolese legal system, leading to 1,536 trials and 1,086 convictions. ABA ROLI has subsequently expanded its work to include support for the Congolese judiciary, efforts to strengthen the capacity of the national police, the use of innovative technology to increase access to justice, efforts to improve prison conditions and support for communities adversely affected by industrial mining.
Retreat participants engaged in spirited discussion of ABA ROLI’s vision for its work in the DRC, those activities undertaken in pursuit of that vision and steps that can be taken to strengthen ongoing and future programs. Additionally, the retreat provided a platform for ABA ROLI staff with expertise in program design, monitoring and evaluation to share conceptual frameworks, strategies and technical tools for strengthening the DRC program’s monitoring and evaluation practices. Throughout the retreat, a five-member strategic planning secretariat documented conclusions and strategic decisions reached during both small group and plenary sessions. A strategic plan, which incorporates those decisions and will guide ABA ROLI’s work in the DRC for the next three to five years, is currently being developed.
“Opportunities for reflection and long-term thinking are rare but invaluable, permitting a large, well-established country program—such as the one in the DRC—to apply the lessons of both its successes and challenges in its daily activities,” said Maria Koulouris, director of ABA ROLI’s Africa Division. “The discussions we’ve had will help to ensure future programs reflect ABA ROLI’s core principles and the DRC’s dynamic socio-political context.” Koulouris added that the event also strengthened the sense of collaboration and shared purpose among staff that “underpins all successful programs.”
To learn more about our work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.