Between 2002 and 2007, SDC has implemented a Programme of Support for Justice and Reconciliation in Rwanda. The objective was to contribute to national reconciliation through the strengthening of the rule of law and access to justice. Indeed, the civil war and genocide of 1994 have created such trauma in the Rwandan population that only patient reconstruction of social ties enables the development of the country and the establishment of lasting peace.

The SDC Programme of Support for Justice and Reconciliation has supported the launching and monitoring process Gacaca (local people’s courts) as well as the independent monitoring conducted by the NGO Penal Reform International. The programme has helped to promote access to justice for vulnerable groups, including the institutional capacity building of courts of first instance. It supported initiatives aiming at promoting dialogue and reconciliation from civil society and mobilisation and training activities in the field of human rights. In addition to (PRI), three organisations were funded by SDC: the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) and RCN Justice and Democracy.

In 2004, the population of Rwanda’s capital of Kigali had multiplied by five in the ten-year period since 1994, from 200,000 to nearly one million. Due the migration of rural populations and returning of refugees who settled in the city for safety reasons and the need for employment, this rapid and uncontrolled population growth caused many environmental problems (deforestation, erosion, ground water pollution) and generated significant needs in urban infrastructure for the residents of new quarters.

Therefore, the SDC has been running participatory urban workshops set up in March 2005 by the City of Kigali and the District of Kicukiro in partnership with the international association United Cities against Poverty. The aim of the participatory urban workshop is to involve people in identifying and implementing urban projects and to train skilled technicians. Municipal services in Kigali, representatives of Kicukiro district and several ministries have collaborated on studies, surveys and the implementation of the project.

The SDC has been the main funder of the International Documentation Network on the African Great Lakes Region of since its inception in 1996. The main objective of the network is to collect, process and disseminate information on the region to contribute to more open and accurate information, minimize combat rumors, and facilitate democratic dialogue and peace restoration. After the genocide in Rwanda, it became apparent that the systematic disinformation and dissemination of rumors fueled hatred and wars in the Great Lakes. A small group of scholars from the region then brought forward the idea of using information technology to preserve and disseminate authentic and original texts from local actors on the one hand and international observers and researchers on the other hand.

The network has done the very important work of collecting, processing and disseminating documents on the region, making available almost 80,000 text pages (including approximately 4,500 unpublished documents) on its website. This information is accessed primarily by students, teachers and researchers worldwide, members of Burundian, Congolese and Rwandan diasporas, NGOs and international organizations (including the International Criminial Tribunal for Rwanda and the lawyers involved), local and international media, some government branches, national committees and civil society associations in the Great Lakes.

Supported financially until 2008, the network now operates independently. It has offices in Bujumbura, Kigali, Dar Es Salaam, Bukavu and Kinshasa. The Tanzania office opened in July 2001 at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Dar Es Salaam and is responsible for technical management of the network’s electronic documentation.

The network’s headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland. A scientific committee composed of 30 renowned academics, Africans or Africanists from twenty academic institutions in Africa, Europe, the United Sates and Canada advises and supports the network.

In 2005-2006, SDC supported financially the activities of the Initiative for Central Africa (INICA). INICA in collaboration with the Laboratoire d’Analyse Régionale et d’Expertise Sociale (LARES) in Cotonu, Benin has undertaken a study on the dynamics of economic, social and political transformation and their actors in the Great Lakes (DRC, Rwanda and Burundi). The study aimed to understand regional dynamics in the context of facilitating the post-conflict economic recovery in the Great Lakes, and to propose some concrete and realistic actions to meet the needs of the populations. The assumption was that the strengthening of cross-border economic exchanges may represent a first step towards a wider regional economic integration, peace and stability.

The analysis focused on several priority issues: demographics, migration, regional economy from agro-pastoralism and mining, transport infrastructure and communication, urban dynamics. To carry out the study, INICA collaborate with Laboratoire d’Analyse Régionale et d’Expertise Sociale (LARES/ Cotonu), the East African Bureau of Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) based in Kigali, SNV Holland International along with various NGOs and scientific institutions

Since 2005, SDC has supported the electoral process in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on several occasions. SDC support helped DRC in holding transparent and credible elections, with the intent that the country could exit the post-conflict transition period and gradually establish legitimate, democratic institutions which guarantee the establishment of a rule of law and economic and social development.

The SDC has regularly contributed to the multilateral trust fund established by the UNDP in collaboration with MONUC Electoral Division and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). It also financed the activities of Congolese civil society organizations engaged in civic operations. Among them, the SDC has directly supported the Conférence Nationale Epicopale du Congo (CENCO) and the Bureau d'Etudes et d'Expertise pour le Développement (BEED) in Goma through partnership with two Swiss relief organizations with a long history of work in the DRC: Fastenopfer-Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund and the Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS). CENCO has established a national programme of civic education to prepare people for elections and BEED has been running a programme called Participation Citoyenne pour la Culture Démocratique (PACY) developed by EPER with several local partners.

From 1996 to 2008, SDC has supported the training of mental health professionals in Rwanda. Areas of the SDC Humanitarian Aid and Regional Cooperation were first directed towards a project entitled Plan de Formation – Action en Cours D’emploi » in collaboration with the Rwanda Ministry of Health and specialists from the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève (HUG). The aim was to train professionals in Rwandan psychiatry to treat the country’s growing need in the area due to the 1994 genocide. One HUG psychiatrist and one psychiatric nurse came on a mission to Kigali from November 1996 to December 1999 to train doctors, psychologists, nurses and social workers within Ndera Reference National Psychiatric Hospital and afterwards in the Service de consultations Psychosociales de Kigali (SCPS) established with the project support.

In 2004, the Rwandan Ministry of Health requested that HUG allow Rwandan psychiatrists to be trained in Switzerland. From 2006 to 2008, three Rwandan psychiatrists were able to attend a refresher training in Geneva thanks to the funds from the SDC. The objective was to ensure the next generation of medical specialists’ ability to contribute to the maintenance and perpetuation of the mental health care system in Rwanda as well as the establishment of a training curriculum in psychiatry in collaboration with the National University of Rwanda (NUR). As for the Rwanda Ministry of Health, it has committed itself to ensuring the overall coordination of mental health policy in the country.

In 2003, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) initiated the program “Paix et Decentralisation” (PED) to support and accompany the decentralization policy adopted by the Rwandan government in 2000. The process which involved a transfer of several Central government responsibilities to local governments required a larger and skilled number of staff, more infrastructure and equipment. SDC committed itself to assist Rwanda in this process by supporting four districts of the Western Province: Karongi, Rutsiro, Nyamasheke and Rusizi.

More specifically, PED has contributed to the creation and implementation of four main tools: grading evaluation, the revolving equipment fund, FORMADIS and financing several projects.

There are a total of 714 projects which were funded by PED for the amount of 1'620'000FRW (2'760'000 USD) from 2003 to June 2010. The projects aimed at developing the four districts in four areas: infrastructure and equipment, social projects (building schools, roads, etc.), and capacity building.

In the equipment area, PED in collaboration and upon-request from districts, funded computer (laptops) and logistics (motorcycles) equipment. This equipment has been given to districts to create an equipment fund and serve as hire purchase to generate new equipment. This system has shown a positive impact on the quality of services delivered by the beneficiary staff, their motivation and the good management of the material received. This support has also resulted into the speeding-up of reports drafting and the projects’ field monitoring.

The program also initiated the “Formadis” structure in the districts to improve professional skills of the staff and the organizational performance of the districts through training. Autonomous, “formadis” is in charge of planning, organizing, and executing trainings as well as checking the quality of trainings and the post-training monitoring. Functional, “Formadis” cells established in each district have gained a remarkable and very satisfying experience. Since 2003, 16'043 staff has been trained on various topics such as planning, procurement, project management, financial management and accounting, use of computer, etc.

In 2007, in order to contribute to the improvement of the quality of work work provided by the local administration, PED introduced the concept of grading evaluation. With this tool, the local authorities of Karongi, Rutsiro, Nyamasheke and Rusizi districts, were able to assess the performance of governance structures such as the district council and the JADF (Joint Action Development Forum) on a grade scale ranging from excellent to poor. This allowed them to improve their work by identifying good and bad practices, to improve the poor and maintain the excellent.