Eastern DRC continues to be plagued by violence and dozens of armed groups. Yet, these groups—and how they interact with their social and political environment—remain poorly understood. This report analyses their involvement in public life in the territories of Kalehe and Walikale, the outcome of the intersection of several local historical processes with larger national and regional dynamics. The current political and military landscape in these territories, defined by the presence of armed groups and the consequent fragmentation of local authority, is mainly caused by unresolved tensions between and within communities over territory, authority and resources; the lack of capacity of state services to provide protection; and the limited success of reintegration efforts.

The report explores how these armed groups are embedded in local communities, connected to local power struggles and involved in the exercise of local authority, including in security, dispute resolution and revenue generation.