The Democratic Republic of Congo continues to suffer the consequences of armed conflict, massive population displacement and a persistent economic crisis. After years of weak governance, corruption and loss of state authority, the Government faces huge challenges in alleviating poverty and in preventing and responding to humanitarian emergencies. In 2012, DRC ranked last in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index.
Since the 2011 presidential election, the security situation has dramatically deteriorated in the east of the country, with rebel activity widespread in much of the region.
Although the country has great agricultural potential and plentiful resources, more than 70 percent of its population remains poor. An estimated 6.4 million people are in acute and livelihood food security crisis as of June 2013. Since 2009, some 2.6 million people have been displaced, predominantly in the east.
In 2012, some 10 million people received humanitarian assistance, of which 3.6 million benefited from WFP’s food assistance.
With close to 970,000 internally displaced people, North Kivu remains the most affected province. South Kivu hosts more than 800,000 displaced people. Maniema province has also been affected by population’s movement due to conflict. The numbers of displaced in Maniema had crossed the 200,000 mark bar by the end of June 2013 while in Katanga, activity by armed groups led to the displacement of some 370,000 people.
The overall food security situation has deteriorated in the eastern provinces. The latest Emergency Food Security Assessment of April 2012 showed that 19 percent of the population of North Kivu is severely food insecure while 42 percent is moderately food insecure, translating into 4.4 million people affected by food insecurity. The situation has clearly deteriorated since 2012.. Most critically for the medium term, the recent surge in violence in North Kivu has coincided with both the harvest and subsequent planting seasons.
Acute malnutrition is a serious public health problem in the provinces affected by armed conflict (North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga and Orientale) as well as in the more peaceful provinces (Kasai Oriental, Kasai occidental, Equateur, Bandundu) of the DRC.
Several nutritional surveys recently conducted showed global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates that exceed the serious threshold of 10% in more than half of the DRC’s territories. Some areas show GAM rates above 15% or critical threshold for nutritional interventions. Chronic malnutrition rates (stunting) among children aged 6-59 months stands at 43.4%, a level rated as ‘critical’ under WHO thresholds.
In 2010, net school enrolment in DRC was low (75 percent) with significant disparities between provinces, and between urban and rural areas: 29 percent of children and adolescents (5 to 17 years) are out of school, of which 53 percent are girls. Displacement areas also have the highest percentage of out-of-school children, the highest being in North Kivu with 44 percent.
Social indicators are distressing: life expectancy is at 45 years, infant mortality remains as high as 158 per 1000 children under the age of one. Almost half of adolescent girls have at least one child. Almost half the population has no access to drinking water and only 14 percent of households have adequate sanitation. The HIV rate in 2012 was 2.7 percent, translating into 1 million people living with the virus.