In response to the shrinking humanitarian space in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this report seeks to shed light on the humanitarian access negotiation practices of NGOs operating in the area. It explores the way that local communities and armed non-State actors (ANSAs) perceive the different humanitarian stakeholders active in the region and how NGOs go about negotiating access. Based on this, the report provides recommendations for improving humanitarian access in North Kivu, and thus responding to the needs of the civilian population.
Generally numerous themes emerged from the research: the necessity of taking a situated approach to access, foregrounding communication on humanitarian principles and programming, an understanding of local structures and perspectives, and tailoring approaches to the specific needs of the community. It also demonstrated that community acceptance is key for humanitarian access, in particular in the face of criminal threats to humanitarian action. Furthermore, the quality of programming emerged as the most immediately important factor for acceptance, access, and safety of an NGO; simply put, communities are more likely to advocate in favour of those NGOs who they perceive as bringing in credible and valuable services.
Geneva Call consulted four ANSAs, six communities, 37 NGOs and four other organisations as part of this research. Results of the study were presented to the humanitarian community in Kinshasa and Goma in December 2018. This study was produced by Geneva Call with the support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Chayes Fellowship and the Summer Public Interest Fund of the Harvard Law School. Geneva Call has been working in North Kivu, DRC since 2014, with an office in Goma.