Conflict and resources in post-genocide Rwanda and the Great Lakes region
The legacy of the genocide of 1994 has spread from Rwanda to the wider Great Lakes region, and its most damaging effects have been felt in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), former Zaire. Here an economy based on pillage and force of arms has been organized by local elites, and the Rwandan state, ensuring also on behalf of the West that it is not excluded from the scramble to extract rare mineral deposits, obtain forest products and otherwise exploit the resources of the DRC. The most noticeable after-effect of the genocide has been mass refugee movements and internal displacement. The damage to environments throughout the region has been dramatic, and has been exacerbated by patterns of growing social inequality. In addition, social institutions that might be able to both manage resource use and resolve conflicts, have all but collapsed under the weight of a violent form of ethnic politics. The main hope for the future lies in reviving some of these community-level institutions in ways that can overcome some of the more poisonous effects of racial identity politics throughout the Great Lakes region. The necessity for political solutions to environmental and resource problems is very clear; what is less clear is how such solutions can be formulated and implemented.