Last week was a very exciting one for Insight on Conflict, as for the first time we organised an event to bring together local peacebuilding organisations featured on this site. The 'Peace Exchange' took place in Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo from July 19-21, with more than 20 organisations in attendance, from four different provinces of DRC (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri (Orientale) and Maniema). The event was intended to bring together a range of local peacebuilding organisations for them to share their experiences and learn from each other, whilst at the same time exploring opportunities for future collaboration. We had representation from a couple of larger organisations such as HEAL Africa and Women for Women International, though the majority of participants were from organisations whose work unfortunately will be little known outside their local communities.

From the perspective of Peace Direct and Insight on Conflict, the event was an opportunity to learn more about what the challenges are for local peacebuilders in DR Congo. To best give the peacebuilders the space to express their thoughts, we choose to use 'Open Space Technology' to facilitate the event, a method that allowed the participants themselves to decide the agenda and topics to discuss. This was an approach not without risks, but thankfully the enthusiastic participation of the peacebuilders meant that the time was fully utilised and ensured that we focused on the topics that were really important to them.

The event proved extremely useful to participants, in particular in allowing them to share the similarities and also the differences in their work with groups from other provinces who they would not normally have come into contact with. By the last morning, intense discussions were taking place as to how the groups could continue to collaborate or even form a network for future work together. Their professionalism, enthusiasm and plans for a better future for DR Congo were deeply inspiring.

One of the main points raised by the local peacebuilders was their belief in the importance of sharing information about their work with the outside world, using the internet. Over the next few days and weeks, we will be uploading content about each of the groups featured, as well as the Peace Exchange itself. We hope you visit our DR Congo section to view the information about these groups.

Ruairi Nolan, Insight on Conflict, 26 July 2010