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Research Design

Researchers for this study consulted with representatives of the Congolese government, leaders of civil society, and representatives of local and international nongovernmental organizations. A discussion guideline was developed to provide context and inform the development of a population-based survey. This qualitative assessment was followed from September to December 2007 by a quantitative, cross-sectional survey of 2,620 individuals in eastern DRC and 1,133 individuals in Kinshasa and Kisangani combined.

The discussion of the survey focuses on the area most affected by conflict in the DRC: the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri district in the Oriental Province (North Kivu: n= 1,081, South Kivu: n=815, Ituri District: n=724). In this report, the terms “eastern Congo,” “eastern DRC,” or “East” refer to these three locations. The provinces of North and South Kivu, bordering Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, have experienced massive displacement and fierce fighting throughout the years of conflict until today. The Ituri district remains volatile and was the site of intense battles between proxy forces of the local Hema and Lendu ethnicities. For comparison, the survey also interviewed 1,133 individuals in the capital Kinshasa (n=592) and in Kisangani (n=541). Kisangani experienced intense fighting between Ugandan- and Rwandan-backed rebel groups between 1999 and 2002, but fighting subsided for the most part after the signing of the Sun City agreement in 2002. Kinshasa, on the western edge of the country, is geographically removed from the situation in eastern Congo, and residents thus hold different perspectives on the various conflicts. The survey included Kinshasa to examine differences in attitudes toward justice, peace, security, and accountability between the political center and the eastern regions.

In eastern Congo, three teams of eight to 16 local men and women, 18 years and older, each representing the ethnic group in the area under study and fluent in the local language (i.e., Swahili and Lingala), collected data using a standardized questionnaire. The interviewers participated in a four-day training session with mock interviews and piloted the survey to familiarize themselves with the questionnaire, interview techniques, and selection of respondents.

The sampling universe included all adults (18 years of age or older) living in the selected area. Respondents were selected using a multi-stage sampling strategy. In eastern Congo the levels of political divisions are “provinces,” “districts,” “territories,” “collectivities,” “groupements” (chefferie, secteur, urban centers), and villages. Researchers first obtained a list of all collectivities and population estimates within the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri District and then used systematic random sample technique proportionate to sample size to select 30 collectivities. Within each collectivity, 25 percent of the groupements from a list of all groupements were selected. Villages were randomly selected from a list of villages established for each selected groupements. Population-size estimates were not available at the groupement and village levels. In the villages, interviewers were assigned to zones where they selected every other household in a randomly chosen direction. A household was defined as a group of people normally sleeping under the same roof and eating together. In each household, interviewers randomly selected one adult to be interviewed from a list of all eligible adults. Three attempts were made to contact a household or individual. The minimum sample size for each of the 30 collectivities selected in eastern Congo was 80. Some of the selected collectivities hosted internally displaced people at the time of the survey. The sampling procedure was similar in the urban settings (e.g., Kinshasa and Kisangani), with “quartier” being used as the primary sampling unit.

One-on-one interviews were conducted anonymously in a confidential setting. Due to the sensitivity of some of the questions, the interviewers were assigned to same-sex respondents. Oral rather than written consent was obtained due to the low education levels and high rate of illiteracy among the populations sampled. The interviewers sought oral consent by guaranteeing the respondents confidentiality and ensuring them that their names were never recorded. Respondents did not receive compensation for participating in this study. The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Human Subject Committees of the University of California, Berkeley, Tulane University, and the University of Kinshasa, DRC.

Research Instruments

The survey instrument covered 13 topics including (1) demographics, (2) place of living/displacement,

(3) priorities and access to services, (4) sense of security, (5) sense of community, group dynamic, and reintegration, (6) understanding of peace and justice, (7) peace and mechanisms for peace, (8) accountability and mechanisms for justice, (9) the ICC, (10) truth, (11) victims and reparation, (12) psychological impact, and (13) the role of the media. (The presentation of the results does not follow this order.) The instrument was developed by a team with expertise in human rights, law, transitional justice, epidemiology, psychiatry, anthropology, surveying, and the conflict in eastern Congo, in consultation with local actors. The instrument was first developed in French and then translated into the local languages and tested. Back-translation and consultation with local experts ensured the quality of the translation. In addition to the qualitative survey, some in-depth interviews and key-informant interviews were conducted in selected sampled sites to gain an understanding of the concepts and judicial mechanisms under study.

Statistical Analysis

Data were entered into Microsoft Access database. They were subsequently imported and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 16.0. No weighting factors were used during the analysis because selection of the primary sampling unit was done proportionately to the population size


All possible steps were taken to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the data collected. Nevertheless, some limitations to the study must be acknowledged in light of the inherent challenges of doing population-based field research in conflict and post-conflict settings.

First, recall error and the sensitivity of some questions may have affected the accuracy of respondents’ answers. Although no names were recorded and confidentiality of the responses was guaranteed prior to the interviews, fear of reprisals might have influenced how candid the respondents were in providing their answers to the survey questions.

Second, respondents’ perceptions and answers were subject to influence by local events that occurred contemporaneous to the survey. The survey took place at a time of renewed fighting between government forces and the troops of Laurent Nkunda in North Kivu. The data, therefore, likely reflects the local population’s strong reactions to the escalation of violence and displacement. Due to security concerns, two groupements in the territories of Masisi and Rutshuru (where most of the violence took place) were replaced with other groupements randomly selected within the same respective territories. In Ituri, the survey took place just after the ICC announced the transfer of Germain Katanga to The Hague. This may have affected the views on the Court.

Third, while the survey questions were finalized after consultations with key stakeholders, respondents were free to interpret the questions according to their own perceptions of the terms used. As such, where the survey gauges attitudes towards “peace” and “security,” “justice” and “accountability,” “war crimes” and “truth-seeking mechanisms” for example, the respondents reacted to these questions according to their individual understanding of those terms. Such concepts were not explained to the respondents to avoid leading their answers.

Fourth, although three attempts were made to contact selected respondents, not all sampled individuals could be interviewed. A total of 649 households, or 15 percent of all the sampled households, were replaced, most frequently because no one was home (half of the cases) or because they refused (46%) and no one else could be selected. Within selected households, 412 individuals, or 10 percent of all selected individuals were replaced by another randomly selected adult of the same gender within the same household: 54 percent refused, 38 percent were not home, and 8 percent were replaced for other reasons. It is unknown whether the opinions of replaced individuals differed significantly from those of the selected respondents.

Fifth, the study was designed to provide results representative of eastern DRC, including the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu and the Ituri district, and Kinshasa and Kisangani. The results do not therefore represent the opinion of all Congolese, although they are representative of the populations in the selected areas. Furthermore, census data available to the researchers regarding the populations under study in this survey are of limited reliability. The last census in DRC was conducted in 1984 and since then only projected population estimates are available. Probability sampling based on those population estimates was used to select respondents. This in turn may have affected the results. Nevertheless, because population estimates are relatively accurate, the results are deemed representative of the areas under study.