By CEAR staff

Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies

Regional Risk Overview

The Great Lakes Region continues its slow but steady progress in all areas of the Pact on Peace, Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region (PSSDGLR). During the last four reporting periods Vol. 1.5 through Vol. 1.8, the region reduced its risk assessment in five zones: Zones 2, 3, 7, 8, and 12.  Only one zone—the long troubled Zone 1—is still rated as experiencing armed conflict, and CEAR has maintained Zone 4 at a 4 risk assessment because even though there has been some armed clashes negotiation efforts are being maintained.


The overall trend for the Great Lakes Region is the gradual extension of state authority to areas, which have lacked state intervention during many years, and the demonstration of immediate intervention in Human Security issues by a combination of Non-Government Organizations and government action. In addition, progress is being made on development issues like transport, energy and communications.

Significantly, Zone 3 Cradle of Man Triangle scored the larges risk drop from a 3 to 1.5 risk assessment after the situation stabilized following the clashes between Karamajong fighters and UPDF troops. The underlining issues remain in this zone but the Ugandan government’s disarmament program continues as well as efforts to intercede between the tribes with the return of cattle and other methods. In addition, an important development project—The Road to Peace—which connects two tribal areas, which will hopefully increase communications and government access to the region of the Samburu territory and Sugutu Valley inhabited by the Pokot ethnic group.


Zone 2 showed the next largest improvement with a risk reduction from 2.5 to 1.5. This was a result of government action on the Rift Valley Fever epidemic that had developed earlier in the year and the initiation of a number of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) development projects.


Zones 7 and 8 declined a half a step in their risk rating from 2 to 1.5 because of reduced political risk in Western DRC after a period of tension in the follow up of the elections and in Zone 8 the issue of an Angolan incursion into DRC territory was solved in a peaceful manner with dialogue between the two countries despite causing an outcry in Western DRC. However, the risk level for part of Zone 8 remains elevated because of risk to Human Security by floods and food insecurity. Additionally, political tensions can also easily flare up at any time even on issues such as the disarmament of the former Vice-Presidents guards.


Finally, Zone 12 returned to a stable/development rating of 1 because evicted Rwandans from Tanzania were allowed to return to claim personal items and this agreement was reached, once again, by joint cooperation between Rwanda and Tanzania. In addition, the ICGLR railway project reached the feasibility study stage of funding, which when complete the project is complete it will greatly increase the economic ties between Rwanda and Tanzania and facilitate regional integration.


Security Risks

The primary security risks facing the region are the following:


  • Continued disarmament of armed groups in the North Kivu and Ituri and extension of state authority to all areas of the DRC.
  • Resolution of the Lord’s Resistance Army situation and their disarmament and removal from the Central African Republic, the DRC, and South Sudan.
  • Continual tribal violence in eastern Uganda and western Kenya between Karamajong, Pokot, and other tribes.
  • Violence in the Mount Elgon area by the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF), which may be rooted in land and resources issues.
  • Insecurity in South Sudan with a risk of seeing tensions rising between different factions of the SPLM/A. Former SPLA fighters who refused to hand in their guns also pose a security risk.
  • Instability in Somalia and increased weapons flow from Somalia into the Great Lakes Region, which will hinder disarmament efforts to the West.
  • The armed conflict in the Central African Republic which could cause political instability and hinder their cooperation in the ICGLR and block the extension of state authority to the border areas with other ICGLR states.



Political Risk

The primary political risk to the region is focused on Burundi and the changing political struggle between factions of the CNDD-FDD which are divided between President Nkurunziza and former CNDD-FDD party president Radjabu. President Nkurunziza is consolidating power by removing from office Radjabu’s supporters in the CNN-FDD and at the same time looking for a possible alliance with FRODEBU and Uprona political parties.

At this stage, CEAR believes the risks are political in nature without escalation to armed conflict because the army has remained neutral so far. In addition, it appears that President Nkurunziza will be able to retain power and continue the government’s ICGLR involvement, but Radjabu remains an open issue that ultimately requires a political solution.

In addition to Burundi, there is a growing political risk in Katanga where Zambia has demanded the extradition of the governor and the export of minerals has been halted after a decision by the provincial governor.

In Kenya and in Angola political manoeuvring ahead of their respective elections is already taking place but is unlikely to pose a real political risk.
On different occasions, in Uganda there has been local and limited opposition to the government, although it does not represent a political risk so far a multiplication of such incidents could elevate the risk level in the future.


Human Security Risks

Floods and Food Insecurity

Heavy rains in Burundi and Zambia have created a food insecurity situation in both nations. The hardest hit is Burundi where an estimated two million people are at risk and a forecasted annual deficit of 300,000 tons of food. There has also been flooding in northwest Rwanda which created pockets of food insecurity but could be resolved by an overall good harvest.

Human Rights Abuses by Armed Forces

In the DRC, looting and human rights abuses by the armed groups that are now disarming has been replaced by FARDC illegal action.  Numerous incidents involving the FARDC have occurred in Eastern DRC. This includes the area of Bunia, Masisi, and other parts of the DRC. These actions will jeopardize Kinshasa’s ability to extend legitimate state authority to the region and undermine President Kabila’s political base.


The largest social and economic threat to the ICGLR area is the outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Kenya, Tanzania and potentially Zambia. Over 2.8 million livestock have been vaccinated. There has been considerable economic loss in Kenya and Tanzania with sales of beef reduced.

Meningitis has also appeared in the countries known to be located inside the ‘meningitis belt’, Uganda, South Sudan and the DRC. Uganda has reported some 1,777 cases with 51 deaths and Sudan has reported 1,800 cases with 172 deaths. Vaccine has arrived in some areas but the disease continues to spread. Moreover, there is a risk of vaccine shortage as the main vaccine manufacturing company is relocating its production plant and will not be able to produce vaccines.

 CEAR is a community based product of the Internaitonal Conference on the Great Lakes Region. All comments or questions are welcome and may be addressed to either William Church at or


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