The second largest country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ranked 7th of 178 countries on the 2017 Fragile States Index, placing it in the highest category of risk (“very high alert”) and reflecting widespread conflict and insecurity. Presidential and parliamentary elections planned for 2016 were delayed, contributing to continuing political instability.
The Congolese people suffer the effects of protracted conflict and instability, chronic poverty, underdevelopment, human rights violations and insecurity. In 2016, the long running crisis in the east spilled over to previously stable regions, such as the Kasai. Some 1,7 million people fled their homes last year, bringing the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to 4.5 million. The DRC hosts more IDPs than any other African country.
Hunger in the DRC is increasing at an alarming rate. Severe food insecurity afflicts 7.7 million, which is an increase of 30 percent in the past year. Almost half of the severely food insecure people (3.2 million) live in the Kasai region.
As a result of a deepening and widening of the conflict, humanitarian needs doubled from 2017 to 2018. For ordinary Congolese people, access to nutritious food is a dailystruggle as fighting and violence cause displacement and loss of agricultural livelihoods. Poor transport infrastructure, price volatility and underinvestment in agriculture further exacerbate the situation.
More than 4,6 million children are acutely malnourished, including 2,2 million suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Only 9.3 percent of the population consume an acceptable minimum diet. The 2016 Cost of Hunger in Africa study found that undernutrition costs the DRC 4.6 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – equivalent to US$ 1.7 billion – every year. This includes loss in productivity, high health care costs for the treatment of malnutrition-related conditions and workforce reduction due to early deaths.
Subsistence farming is prevalent, with families producing 42 percent of the food they consume. However, the vulnerability of smallholder farmers to displacement and other shocks, alongside their limited access to formal markets, poses serious challenges to their self-reliance. While women make up the majority of agricultural workers and produce about three quarters of the food in rural areas, they have very limited access to land.
More than 600.000 Congolese nationals are refugees in neighbouring countries, and DRC hosts more than half a million refugees from Rwanda, Central African Republic and South Sudan.
Globally, DRC represents 10 percent of people in need of humanitarian assistance. However, due to international attention focused on other, high-profile emergencies, DRC receives only 3 percent of global humanitarian financing. Consequently, underfunding is the single largest impediment to a robust humanitarian response in DRC.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been present in the country since 1973. Work focuses on responding to large-scale displacement and other shocks, while pursuing long-term recovery and resilience and addressing the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition. WFP collaborates with national actors and government institutions to enhance their capacities in disaster risk management and emergency preparedness. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service and the provision of logistics services to the humanitarian community are also central to WFP’s portfolio in the DRC.
What WFP is doing in Congo DR
Kasai emergencySince October 2017, WFP has expanded activities in the Kasai region, where almost half of DRC’s severely food insecure people live (3,2 million). Having reached 400,000 people by the end of 2017, WFP continued towards its target of reaching 1,2 million people in Kasai by June 2018.
Crisis responseWFP provides assistance in kind and – where possible – cash to support almost 2 million people, including vulnerable internally displaced persons (IDPs), conflict-affected host communities and refugees from South Sudan, Central African Republic, Burundi and Rwanda. Due to funding shortfalls, people are receiving half rations.
NutritionIn order to treat and prevent malnutrition, WFP is providing specialised nutritious food to vulnerable people including children under 5, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people undergoing treatment for HIV or tuberculosis. Targeted populations also receive tailored nutrition-focused communications.
Support for smallholder farmersWFP helps smallholder farmers improve production and trade through a Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, in partnership with FAO. P4P provides trainings on agricultural techniques, literacy to promote women’s empowerment, construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure. It also enables farmers to connect with markets and trade collectively.
School mealsWFP’s emergency school feeding programme provides meals in schools, mostly located near IDP sites in North and South Kivu, Katanga, Tanganyika, Equateur and Ituri. The meals improve the nutrition of vulnerable students and increase school attendance, thereby reducing the risk of children being recruited by armed groups.
Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS)The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) provides aid workers, donors and diplomatic missions with safe, flexible, efficient, and cost-effective air transportation. It also enables humanitarian actors to reach remote and challenging locations, as in Ituri and Haut Uele provinces.
Humanitarian coordinationWFP leads the Logistics and Emergency Telecommunications (ETC) Clusters, which coordinate responses to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance for the entire humanitarian community in the DRC. WFP also co-leads the Food Security Cluster with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).