Click on Congo to view our video from Bukavu

Bukavu was established early in the last century by Belgian colonisers who built a lakeside town with public buildings and villas and originally called it Costermansville.  In the 1950’s the population numbered around 35,000 people.

The city was built on five peninsulas reaching out into Lake Kivu, which is backed by high mountains rising to 2000 metres that provide a panorama of beautiful and contrasting landscapes.

The setting today is as attractive as it was in the 1950’s, but the population is now over 1 million people with most living in poor housing  covering the surrounding hills and everyone making do with an inadequate water and electricity supply.  

Just a few kilomtres from the city is the border with Rwanda at Rusizi near Cyangugu. Bukavu’s strategic location at the north end of the Rusizi valley on the border with Rwanda  is one reason why the city suffered during the Congolese wars between 1996 and 2004, when rapes and massacres took place here in a war of aggression between the Rwandan troops and General Nkunda, their RCD proxy, and Congolese troops who allied (not without political and humanitarian consequences) with the FDLR and Mai-Mai militias.

Bukavu is now relatively peaceful and a pleasant place to live. The people are friendly and resourceful and  mainly survive by means of small businesses found along the major roads. Only a thin layer of the population work in larger trades such as the wholesale of building materials, food, shoes and clothes that for the most part are imported from Dubai and Kampala.

A large majority of the people have barely enough money for domestic needs and something like 60% of the population live on less than 1dollar per day. Daily life in areas like Essence is particularly hard.

In short, Bukavu has a poor but vibrant population who are hospitable and show a disarming kindness!