Boom Town

What happened when Wall Street reform came to Congo’s frontier mining towns

By Holly Dranginis

Rubaya town, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: Holly Dranginis / Enough Project
Rubaya’s hilltop artisanal mine. In the early 2000s, violence in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo followed a pattern. Where there were lucrative minerals in the earth, armed groups flocked. Photo: Holly Dranginis
Mines carved into the rolling hills above Rubaya, in a region known as “Congo’s Switzerland.” The Switzerland moniker is less apt when recalling the history of violence the area has endured. Photo credit: Holly Dranginis / Enough Project
Hillside homes near sites of artisanal mining in Rubaya. “There have been a lot of armed groups who have taken control of this town,” Gerver Hakizimana, chair of Rubaya’s civil society association, told me. “They would pillage, grab our belongings, and flee into the forest.” Photo: Holly Dranginis
Motorcyclists on the road to Rubaya’s mine. Photo: Holly Dranginis
A roadside sign marks the site of a local miners’ cooperative. In 2014, multi-stakeholder teams made up of U.N. officials, Congolese civil society, and business and government representatives, under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), validated Rubaya’s mine as conflict-free. Photo: Holly Dranginis
Daphrose with her son, outside a pharmacy in Rubaya. Photo: Holly Dranginis / Enough Project
A view over Rubaya. After decades of widespread armed violence, the mining town is experiencing a period of relative peace. “For me, security needed to come first,” Congolese naturalist Dominique Bikaba explained to me, reflecting on the impact on the region of section 1502, the conflict minerals provisions in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Photo: Holly Dranginis
Daphrose hopes to be able to send her youngest child, now 10 months old, to school when he’s old enough. Her friend whispered to me, “She actually wants him to be President.” Photo: Holly Dranginis

The Enough Project works to support peace, democratic governance, and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. EnoughProject.org

The Enough Project works to support peace, democratic governance, and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. EnoughProject.org