Free Intercommunity Conflicts Caused By Lack of Water in the Democratic Republic Of Congo Essay Sample

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been a war zone since early 1998. Most people considered the country as Africas First World War. Although there are many reasons why the deadly war brought broke out in the Democratic Republic Of Congo, one of the major reasons that have been cited by most people is communal conflicts over natural resources such as minerals and water. When the war came to an end, natural resources especially water became increasingly sparse and rare. This was because of the collapse of the national infrastructure of the Democratic Republic of Congo during the war. Although the Democratic Republic of Congo was the wettest country among African nations, today a majority of people living in both urban and rural areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo do not have adequate access to water. Trefon also affirms the destruction of the infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo led to massive water shortages. A research study conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) revealed that since the war, most people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have not died from violence, but rather from malaria, diarrhea and malnutrition as a result of inadequacy of water.

 
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According to Chellaney, the state water utility in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not have the ability to improve its water supply system because of lack of adequate funds to facilitate to implementation of the project. As a result, the state water system continues to supply water to the needy people through rusty, decaying pipes. According to the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), only about sixty nine percent of people living in urban areas are able to receive adequate water supplied by the state water system. As a consequence, millions of people living in urban areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo do not receive water. The situation is even worse in the rural areas where people scramble for raw water from streams and ponds. People in rural areas have been forced to find other ways of satisfying their need for water because of lack of proper supply form the state water system.

In most rural areas as well as in some urban regions, many Congolese are only able to get water from local streams and ponds. This is because there are no adequate water pipes coming from the state water system. Although many people believe that the natural water they fetch from streams and ponds is clean and safe, they do not understand that the water may be highly contaminated with solid wastes, chemicals and bacteria. However, it is the only sources of water so they have no other choice but to use the unsafe water.

According to Chellaney, there are some privileged Congolese who can afford to buy bottled water imported from foreign countries. The cost of one liter of bottled water is estimated to be one U.S. dollar. Although this might be extremely cheap and affordable in some parts of the world such as in the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom, it is an impossible luxury for many people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is because most people in the Democratic Republic of Congo make less than two dollars a day. Thus, those who do not have money cannot access clean water.

It is estimated that more than five million people have lost their lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to deadly conflicts. One of the major causes of this deadly conflict is a struggle for water resources. The local communities are fighting each other over resources. According to Severin, millions of people have been killed, abducted and tortured. Women and young girls have been raped and homes have been burnt down. Different armed groups from the local communities have been attacking people in efforts to take control of the available water resources especially the streams and ponds. According to Tayor, some armed groups from certain communities had gained control of major water resources especially in rural areas thereby leading to a massive water crisis. The prolonged fight over water resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo have continued for several years without any prospect of finding long lasting solution to the problem. A post-conflict report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stated that as with most African nations, inter-community conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been caused by struggles over natural resources.

The primary players in the inter-community conflicts over water resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo are members of local communities who are fighting over control and management of the resources. On the other hand, political leaders and private organizations are the secondary players in the conflicts.Tayler also affirms that intercommunity conflicts over water resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been fuelled by politicians who have hidden interests in the outcomes of conflicts among the local communities.

In every community, the members are often faced a variety of social challenges, difficulties and problems. The challenges and problems would exert pressure on the people, leading to disagreements. When the disagreements are not dealt with accordingly, conflicts arise among the members. In my opinion, some of the salient issues that give rise to intercommunity conflicts over water resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo are improper management of natural resources in the country, poor leadership and lack of adequate healing among the people after the wars. These issues can be addressed by developing and implementing appropriate conflict resolution techniques.

The primary players are members of the Bangala and Bakongo communities. The secondary players are the government of Congo and humanitarian organizations which had tried to calm down the people. Bangala and Bakongo people. The Bangala and Bakongo people were fighting over scarce water resources in the region. The Bangala people took controlof major water resources such as stream and ponds and prevented the Bakongo people from using the same resources for their animals. The Bakongo people were did not agree and were not happy with these actions of the Bangala people. This led to massive intercommunity clashes between the Bangala and Bakongo people as they fought for the ownership of the scarce water resources.

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How I Resolve Intercommunity Conflicts Caused by Lack of Water in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Solving conflicts among communities can be a tedious, timing-consuming and highly challenging task. A community conflict that is proper resolved would help in preventing potential conflict among the future generations. In my view, the first step in resolving the intercommunity conflicts among the Bangala and Bakongo people would be to identify the main causes of the conflict. This is because most intercommunity conflicts are based on either cultural values or natural resources. I would strive to gain adequate understanding of the underlying factors that have led to the conflicts. This would enable me formulate appropriate resolution strategy that would help end the conflicts and its impacts on the people.

I would also invite people personally where possible. If the conflict does not seem to be ending, I would invite external mediators. In my opinion, mediation is the most suitable resolution technique which would enable the conflicting communities to find a common ground and peaceful solution to their problems. Mediation would also facilitate the development of new leadership skills in the community.

The main goal that I would pursue in relation to the intercommunity conflicts over water resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo is to educate the local people on how to share the scarce natural resources effectively for the benefit of all people in the society. The conflict resolution would also aim at promoting peaceful coexistence among the communities.

Conflict Resolution Approach I Would Use

For my part, the approach that I would use to resolve the intercommunity conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo over water resources is mediation. Mediation refers to a conflict resolution technique in which a neutral party called the mediator intervenes during a dispute and assists the conflicting parties or disputants to find a mutually satisfying solution. Waldman defines mediation as the process by which a neutral third party, commonly referred to as the mediator, assists two or more parties involved in a conflict to negotiate for a settlement during a dispute. Mediation is usually voluntary and confidential. During mediation, the mediator helps the disputing parties to consider the most suitable and creative ways for reaching a resolution. According to Waldman, a mediator should not make any judgments about the parties involved in the conflict or about the conflict itself. The mediator should not also issue any decision during the conflict resolution process.

In my opinion, I have chosen mediation as the best approach to use during the conflict resolution because of mediation permits development of flexible solutions and settlements. The settlements reached during mediation are usually more agreeable and mutually beneficial to both parties. This is because the settlements are often reached through negotiations, hence the parties in a conflict are more likely to accept and fulfill them. Mediation also allows the conflicting parties to revise and adjust to the proposed solutions. Mediation also permits brainstorming and development of the best alternatives during conflict resolution. Mediation is also a win-win approach. It allows both parties involved in a conflict to feel that they have won in the battle. The settlements are often controlled by the disputants. Thus, mediation would be the best conflict resolution technique for the conflicting communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Mediation Process

Step 1: Introduction

This step would involve introducing the mediator and the disputants. In this case, the disputants would be leaders of the disputing communities. During the introduction, the mediator explains himself. The leaders of the disputing communities also introduce themselves. After the introductory remarks, the mediator describes the entire conflict resolution process and the expected outcomes.

Step2: Problem Statement

At this stage, the mediator and the community leaders would state and discuss the challenges and problems faced by the local communities. Both parties to the dispute are given an opportunity to share their experiences and viewpoints.

Step 3: Information Gathering

This sage entails collecting information about the underlying causes of the conflicts between the disputants. It involves gathering information from both parties in order to obtain their viewpoints and a comprehensive understanding of the conflict. Information gathering also permits development and implementation of suitable settlements for the conflict.

Step 4: Bargaining and Generation of Settlements

This stage involves the generation of alternative solutions for the conflict. The disputants are given a chance to review and negotiate the alternatives. The disputants, with assistance from the mediator then choose the best settlement for the conflict. For example, the leaders of the conflicting communities would develop a strategy for sharing water resources among them.

Step 5: Post-Mediation Evaluation

Post-mediation evaluation would be the last step during the mediation process. This stage would involve evaluating the success of the entire mediation process. The post-mediation evaluation allows for assessing the satisfaction of the disputants after the mediation. It would also assess the effective of mediation in resolving the conflict. The evaluation also assesses the progress of the resolution process.

Intrapsychic, Personal, Interpersonal, and Intergroup Factors That Might Come Into Play In the Conflict and Their Impacts

In my opinion, the main intrapsychic, personal, interpersonal and intergroup factors that might into play during the conflict resolution process include social class inequality, egocentric bias judgments, opposing viewpoints and emotions. Social class inequality is where an individual or group of individuals may feel superior to others. In relation to the intercommunity conflict between the Bangala and Bakongo people, social class inequality would be depicted when people from one community feel that they are more entitled to using the scarce water resources than people from the other communities.

An egocentric bias judgment is where an individual makes a judgment based on self-centered factors. People who make egocentric bias judgments often care less of the feelings of others. In relation to this conflict, egocentric biased judgments would arise when parties to the conflict do not care about the feelings of other people. For example, members of the Bangala community would not care about the difficulties encountered by Bakongo people in attempts to gain access to the water resources.

Opposing forces refer to those factors which may lead to further disagreement among the conflicting parties due to lack of a common ground of argument. For example, the Bangala people may assert that they should have full control of streams and ponds located within their territories while the Bakongo people would argue that all natural resources should be shared equally among the people irrespective of their location in the region. Such opposing forces would lead to further conflicts if not addressed appropriately.

Emotions refer to a state of feelings that results from either physical or psychological changes which impact the thinking and behavior of an individual. According to Moore, emotions are characterized by feelings such as hate, anger, love and happiness. Emotions usually affect how people relate with one another. For my part, proper understanding of the emotions of the conflicting parties is very important because it would help in smoothening things during the mediation process. Moreover, as a mediator, it would be important for me to understand the emotional states of the disputants during the resolution process.

Cultural Factors Relevant To the Conflict

The main cultural factor that is relevant to the conflict between the Bangala and Bakongo communities is sharing of natural resources equally among members of the community. If there is lack of equitable distribution of natural resources among members of the communities, people are likely to fight over them. This is because members of the communities strive to access and gain ownership of the resources so as to enable them meet their social needs. When such social needs are not met, the people would become frustrated and begin fights.

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Ethical Issues That May Be Inherent In the Conflict or That May Come Up During the Resolution Process

In my opinion, some of the ethical issues that may be inherent in the conflict include involvement of the mediator, consent of the conflicting parties, confidentiality and mediation goal. First and foremost, the active involvement of the mediator during the conflict resolution process should have limits. For example, a mediator should not make judgment about the conflict or about either of the conflicting parties. In this conflict, I would ensure that I do not interfere with the solutions or settlements chosen by the disputants. I would also ensure that I do not impose any solution to the conflict on the disputants. This would enable the conflicting parties to choose the most suitable settlement that they deem appropriate for both of them.

Secondly, as the mediator, I would ensure that I seek the informed consent of the parties to the conflict during the resolution of the dispute. Informed consent implies that all parties to the conflict must fully understand the mediation process as well as the expected outcomes. As Ihde asserts, it is important for mediators to promote informed consent during mediation processes.

Thirdly, the issue of privacy and confidentiality of information gathered during the resolution is also paramount. As a mediator, I would ensure that the right to privacy of the disputing parties is upheld appropriately. Any information gathered during the resolution process would not be released to any third party without permission from the disputants. Lastly, the goal of the mediation process should be made known to all disputing parties. In my opinion, the main goal of the mediation process would be to find a long lasting solution to intercommunity conflict between the Bangala and Bakongo people. In my opinion, adequate mutual understanding between the conflicting parties is also important as it would facilitate the resolution process.

Strengths and Limitations of Mediation

Some of the major strengths of mediation as an approach to conflict resolution include being relatively cheap and affordable, less complicated and allows for development of flexible solutions and settlements. During mediations, the settlements reached by conflicting parties are also more satisfying and acceptable to both parties. This is because the conflicting parties are usually actively involved in the development of the solutions or settlements thus remain contented with the outcomes of the resolution process.

On the other hand, some of the weaknesses or drawbacks of mediation include lack of procedural and constitutional protection that are often offered by law courts when conflicts are resolved in courts, lack of formal agreements that are legally binding and lack of formal rules that would guide the conflicting parties during conflict resolution. This may lead to unfairness during conflict resolution. Mediation may also not be appropriate when the conflicting parties do not come to a mutual agreement during the resolution process. According to Greco, a mutual agreement between the conflicting parties is important because it cultivates understanding among the disputants. For my part, one of the strengths of mediation which I would use to foster a resolution to the conflict is its ability to allow for development of flexible solutions and settlements. This would enable me to come up with a variety of alternative solutions for the intercommunity conflicts. The Bangala and Bakongo communities would then choose one solution that best suits them.

On the other hand, I would compensate for the weakness of mediation in attempting to resolve the conflict by providing the conflicting parties with adequate information on the negative impacts of conflicts to the people and the importance of peaceful coexistence in the society. I would also ensure that all parties to the conflict are given equal chances during resolution in order to ensure fairness and to facilitate agreement and acceptance of the outcomes of the resolution process.

Expected Outcome during the Resolution Process

For my part, I would expect that the conflicting parties, members of the Bangala and Bakongo communities, would come into agreement on how the scarce water resources would be shared among the two communities equally. For example, I expect that the two communities would agree to use the available water in streams and ponds equally without discriminating members from the other community.

Conclusion

I would assert that intercommunity conflicts should be resolved as soon as possible because when left unattended, they may last for several years and create social and physiological scars the coming generations in the future. Intercommunity conflicts also result into unnecessary and avoidable deaths. Therefore, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, leaders of the Bangala and Bakongo communities and foreign humanitarian organization should joining hands in fighting intercommunity conflicts caused by water crisis in the region.

 

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