Before and after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and with ongoing civil wars in Burundi and DRC, a great amount of written documents were produced in the Great African Lakes region, but without any record or storage. The International Documentation Network on the Great African Lakes Region was born in 1994, at the initiative of Africanist scholars who were willing to keep track of, and make public, unpublished documents about this troubled part of Africa – so-called "grey literature", i.e. texts from local NGOs, political parties, researchers, scholars, local press, individuals etc., most of them produced between 1990 and 2000.
The Programme started to collect original documents in the field and at the institutional level, resulting in a total of about 4,000 documents.
Hosted in Geneva from 1995 to 2009 by the former Graduate Institute for Development Studies, the Programme opened local offices in the field, i.e. in Burundi, Rwanda, DRC and Tanzania. It was offering a double opportunity: to collect more documents from the concerned countries, and to train local staff to document processing with the highest efficiency. The Programme stopped its activities in March 2009.