GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo – In the streets of these two distinct countries, people are doing their best to survive the times wherein walking down the street can be a matter of life and death. Even though conflict among the government forces and other rebel groups seems to have come to a standstill, violence rages on.
Armed militia groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, specifically North Kivu, have been exploiting communities, leaving a trail of dead and raped citizens behind them. To make matters worse, the World Food Program (WFP) has announced reduced food rations by 50 percent in the area.
In total, WFP’s $478 million plan to aid 4.2 million people in Congo has only reached 25 percent funding and consequently will be unable to aid 300,000 internally displaced people in North Kivu. Other areas where contributions will be reduced include South Kivu, Goma, Equateur, Kasai and Orientale. This failure to meet WFP’s fundraising goal will result in food insecurity for those most vulnerable, particularly in rural areas.
In the Republic of Congo, a middle income, oil-rich country with only 2 percent of its fertile land cultivated, the government still heavily relies on food imports and oil based revenue. This has resulted in a ranking of 142 out of 186 countries according to the 2013 UNDP Human Development report. Approximately, 6.3 million people of the 66 million Congolese face food insecurity with no means of improvement in sight.
Most of the problems the Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo are facing are thanks to brewing factors that have finally reached a boiling point. Below are the top 4 challenges the people of the Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently facing:
1. Violence– Continuous waves of armed conflicts, which have persisted in the area since the late 1990s have resulted in roughly 5.5 million deaths. As recent as May 2012, it was reported that nearly 3 million people were forced to flee their homes in Eastern Congo while roughly 500,000 have been displaced in Rwanda and Uganda. At the peak of conflict nearly one-third of people were displaced.
2. Food– Reliance on foreign food imports as cereal and livestock have resulted in the increase of food prices locally for both countries. Many farmers have fled and left their lands unattended, which has resulted in low agricultural productivity. With one in ten children already suffering from acute malnutrition, reestablishing food security is vital for both nations’ progression.
3. Water– Access to clean drinking water remains a major factor for people in poor rural areas as only 11 percent of people have access to clean drinking water compared to the 75 percent of people living in urban areas inside the Republic of Congo.
4. Economy– Economic instability has rocked society as the reliance on oil based revenue has resulted in a devastated political infrastructure, poor human capital and limited technological resources. Nearly 50 percent of rural populations are also out of work.
– Jeffrey Scott Haley