Democratic Republic of the Congo
Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
What are the current issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The situation in one of the poorest and least developed nations on earth is being complicated by a variety of factors including ongoing conflict in the east, a continuing crisis in the neighboring Central Africa Republic and mounting political tensions ahead of planned presidential elections in 2016.
With some 2.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) already in the country, fighting continues to drive people from their homes, particularly in the east of the country. More than 1.4 million former IDPs have returned to their homes in the past 18 months, often to find that their houses and possessions have been destroyed or looted. Meanwhile, an estimated 120,000 refugees are now living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including more than 90,000 from neighboring Central African Republic.
A nationwide study carried out in December 2014 found that there are more than 6.5 million people – 10 percent of the population – in a situation of acute food insecurity. Most of these food-insecure people live in the conflict-affected provinces of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
According to the results of a May 2014 Demographic and Health Survey, eight percent of children under the age of five - nearly one million children - suffer from acute malnutrition and 43 percent - or about six million children – suffer from chronic malnutrition. Child mortality rates are among the highest in the world.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in natural resources and is endowed with the world's second largest rainforest. However, decades of war and mismanagement have resulted in economic stagnation and a deterioration of its infrastructure. Food insecurity affects many throughout the country. People’s needs are immense due to extreme poverty, ongoing armed conflict, poor access to services, and limited or even non-existent infrastructure.
The country is ranked fourth (174 out of 178) in the Failed States Index compiled by Fund for Peace. Until 2012, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was ranked last in the International Food Policy Research Institute Global Hunger Index. The country ranks 186 out of 187 on the latest Human Development Index published by the United Nations Development Programme.
What the World Food Programme is doing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The World Food Programme (WFP) has been in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1973. It currently has 415 staff, including 50 international employees in country. WFP’s operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are designed to provide food assistance to the most vulnerable people in the country’s most conflict-affected provinces (Orientale, North Kivu, South Kivu and Katanga) as well as in Equateur province where more than 90,000 Central African refugees are living.
WFP's country portfolio has six main elements
The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (June 2013 to December 2015) aims to assist 3.6 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It provides life-saving food assistance for internally displaced people in conflict-affected areas; supports the early recovery of people returning to their areas of origin; ensures children attend school by providing emergency school feeding to displaced children; reduces malnutrition through supplemental support to children aged 6-59 months as well as to pregnant and nursing women; and makes local markets more accessible to smallholder farmers.
The second component of WFP’s operations in the is the regional Emergency Operation for refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR). In 2015, WFP plans to provide food assistance to some 96,000 refugees living in camps near the Ubangi River, the natural frontier between the two countries. As conflict in CAR escalates, it is expected that needs for those affected will remain high for the foreseeable future.
The third component is WFP’s Special Operation to Strengthen Food Security Cluster Coordination. Co-lead by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and WFP, and co-facilitated with Action against Hunger, the Food Security Cluster in the Democratic Republic of the Congo coordinates food security responses to displaced people and optimizes collaboration with UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, donors and other stakeholders.
The fourth component is the Special Operation for Logistics Cluster Coordination and Information Management which provides a range of logistics support and services to the humanitarian community to ensure the efficient and coordinated delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The fifth component is the Special Operation for the Provision of Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS) which provides safe, reliable, efficient and cost-effective air transport services to humanitarian organizations and donor representatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The sixth and final component focuses on strengthening smallholder farmers’ access to agricultural commodity markets. This is done by developing farmers’ capacity to produce and trade, as well as constructing/rehabilitating infrastructure to help farmers connect with markets and traders. It also helps build marketing infrastructure in rural areas to facilitate commodity bulking and value added transformation.
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