The census is an ongoing process given that it has to be repeated every few years to capture new recruits and remove those no longer serving, so it’s vital that the government takes ownership of the exercise and avoids over-reliance on the international community. Yet completing the census may well become more challenging with the recent division of the provinces from 11 to 26, effectively more than doubling the required census sites, requiring ever more human and financial resources.

Crown Agents consultant Roxane Burstow explains how police reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo is helping the country’s peace and prosperity

In turn, Kabila’s government has met this increasingly coherent and unified agitation with brazen means of repression. Tactics range from crude violence to banal efficiency. On a single day this January, the police systematically shut down more than 40 events organized by the Citizen Front before they started. The ANR, the DRC’s intelligence agency, thinks little of arresting and intimidating prominent opposition politicians or preventing them from traveling around the country.

PARP II, which will run from 2014 to 2016, focuses on four areas, providing comprehensive support and strengthening of all the necessary facets of development within the PNC:

It’s problematic for both the census teams and for the policemen travelling to the census sites. The latter often have to travel on foot, some for up to two weeks to reach the sites. Once there, they are registered into the system and receive electronic ID cards containing information about their rank, location etc.

President Joseph Kabila came to power in 2001 and was first elected in 2006. He is fast approaching the end of his second mandate, and the Congolese Constitution requires him to step down after this November’s election. But Kabila appears eager to emulate his counterparts from neighboring Rwanda, Republic of Congo, and Burundi by engineering extra presidential terms through the revision or replacement of national constitutions—and the spilling of blood if the need arises.

Running parallel to the census is training covering different basic aspects of police work, as well as responsibilities related to the budget department to ensure sufficient resources are captured and allocated to the PNC. Progress is ongoing on building a police training academy, ACAPOL, which is being partly funded by the DRC government.

A key step in the reform process is a nationwide census of PNC staff, estimated to number 110,000. Even though this is considered a high estimate it still falls short of what is needed. With a population of around 70 million, the DRC would need an estimated 150,000 officers to have an adequate ratio with civilians.

Security sector reform must, therefore, be viewed as a process that requires long-term persistence. This is certainly true in DRC.

Some, such as Jean Claude Katende, the Citizen Front’s spokesman, believe that the new anti-Kabila coalition looms particularly large in the thinking of those directing the PNC. For Katende, “The equipment was bought on the recommendation of the ANR to counter public protest and above all the Citizen Front 2016.”

Security is an essential condition for sustainable development. A government’s inability to protect its people and control its territory often undermines progress on everything else. The international community has recognised the link between security sector reform and development and the 2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs) acknowledge the role of violence and fragility in cycles of poverty and the interconnected nature of conflict and development.

But the DRC’s government has established a reputation for not playing fair with opponents, and its security forces—the police, the military, and the intelligence agency—are typically regarded as the bluntest of the instruments with which the country’s rulers silence those who cause trouble.

These fears are not imaginary, and the dysfunctional electoral period appears to have already made the DRC’s security forces more repressive. Last December, a UNJHRO report found “an increase in the number of violations of political rights and public freedoms committed by state agents” throughout 2015, including nearly 300 victims of extrajudicial executions by states agents, and noted that the PNC and ANR were the “main perpetrators of documented violations.”

Secret police organizations in the Republic of the Congo include the Direction Générale de la Sécurité d'État (DGSE) (Directorate-General of State Security).

• Planning and implementation of the reform• Support to the Human Resources Department• Support to the Department for Budget, Finance, Management Services and Infrastructure Maintenance• Reconstruction and rehabilitation of training facilities.

The European Union (EU) has been supporting the Government with these efforts, including through a programme (PARP) to reform the National Police of DRC. EUNIDA, a grouping of EU Member State implementing agencies was contracted for Phase II of the PARP programme with Crown Agents as the leading implementer.

Police reform is an important entry point for security sector reform. The police are arguably the most visible and immediately present aspect of the security system, in a unique position to provide the foundations for stability, security and confidence in the state. The reform of the Congolese National Police (PNC) to create a more efficient, accountable and active police force is therefore a critical milestone to DRC’s SSR efforts.

Content on this page is paid for and provided by Crown Agents a sponsor of the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network.

While the reasoning is surely solid, it is difficult to find people who trust its advocates. José Maria Aranaz, the UNJHRO’s director, describes the police’s new anti-riot material as “a positive first step, which has long been among our recommendations.” He adds, “Hopefully this is a first step to eradicating the use of excessive force and the deployment of Kalashnikovs when controlling crowds.”