3 Things to Know About Hunger in Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country in Central Africa. The country is extremely large compared with those around it. Through deduction, it is easy to say that the population is very large. Notably, violence within the country affected Congo. This, in turn, leads to higher rates of hunger. Below are three things everyone should know about hunger in the Congo region:

3 Things About Hunger in the Congo Region

  1. Congo has a population of 100 million people. As Africa’s second-largest country and one of the least developed, the DRC ranks very high on the scale for those who go hungry. The DRC ranked 179 out of 189 in 2019 for the Human Development Index. This is due to a large amount of violence and hunger that occur within the country. Because of this, the DRC is privy to the second-largest crisis in the world for global poverty and hunger, after Yemen. Of the 100 million people in the country, roughly 15.6 million of them are severely food insecure. Hunger in the Congo region is a large humanitarian issue — with organizations such as the World Food Programme (WFP) helping to end the crisis.
  2. Violence is a leading factor in food insecurity. Within the DRC, violence concentrates quite heavily. This makes it difficult for farmers to find enough security within their work to feel safe enough to go out to the fields. As a result, this increasingly causes food shortages. In 2018, more than 15 million people were displaced due to violence within the country. This large exodus leads to peoples’ inability to work and thus, money is practically impossible to come by. Due to the hunger in the Congo region and displacement within the country, some people are eating the raw seeds they originally would plant, to satisfy their needs.
  3. There is still hope for those in Congo. Though the circumstances are dire and may seem too bleak for a silver lining, there is proof of change happening in the DRC every day. Organizations, such as the WFP and Action Against Hunger, provide relief to these people who are suffering the detrimental effects of food insecurity. Action Against Hunger reached 143,749 people with its nutrition and health programs. Additionally, the organization reached another 52,279 people with food security and livelihood programs. In 2019, the WFP reached 6.9 million people with food and nutrition services. In this same vein, the WFP is now able to reach more than 7 million people, in 2020. Working toward stability to decrease hunger in the Congo region is a widespread and challenging fight. Though many people face displacement and go without food, with the help of organizations, it is clear that this future for Congo can be avoided.

Continue the Support for Change

The more international aid that is directed toward the Congo, the more people will receive much-needed help. Supporting organizations that give aid to those in need is extremely important, for this exact reason. The support will help save lives and create stability for years to come, within the Congo region and likewise, the effects can ripple throughout the global economy.

Natalie Belford
Photo: Flickr

Viral Outbreaks During COVID-19While COVID-19 has received much attention in the global health discussion, many developing countries continue to fight other viral outbreaks. This highlights why foreign aid is so crucial. Although COVID-19 has affected every nation, some countries will suffer more than others. This article will highlight three of the deadliest viral outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic that have been announced by the WHO in 2020 and the current, global efforts to combat them.

Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Since the largest Ebola outbreak killed 11,000 people in West Africa during 2014–2016, the virus has been successfully contained in most countries. This, thanks to the efforts of front-line workers and organizations, such as the WHO.

However, the DRC has been fighting its 10th outbreak since August 2018. As of June 2020, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has infected 3,470 and killed 2,280 people. In 2019, the WHO named the viral outbreak a global health emergency. Then, in April 2020, just as the Ministry of Health neared the end of the countdown to end EVD, there was a new outbreak in the city of Mbandaka.

In the DRC, EVD has a current fatality rate of more than 60%, which is more than five times that of the new coronavirus or influenza. However, the transmission rate is much lower. Advancements in vaccines and “CUBE” containment rooms have helped stop the spread of the Ebola virus. By vaccinating more than 14,000 health workers in neighboring countries, the WHO contained the disease in the DRC. Yet notably, the organization stresses that controlling the epidemic requires more international collaboration and support.

Measles in Africa, South and Central America and Beyond

In addition to COVID-19 and Ebola, the DRC is also battling the world’s largest measles epidemic. Another of the viral outbreaks, which started during COVID-19 (in 2019) and infected around 300,000 people. Since then, the numbers are fewer in the DRC. In 2020 however, more measles outbreaks surfaced in Burundi and the Central African Republic. Additionally, new outbreaks resurfaced in Mexico, while Brazil still recovered from an outbreak of measles in 2019 that infected over 50,000 people in Sao Paulo. The virus has also emerged in Asia and Eastern Europe in 2019.

Similar to the new coronavirus, the measles virus has a high transmission rate and causes complications in a minority of infected individuals. War and displacement also contribute to the spread of the disease. In Burundi, the outbreak started in a refugee camp where refugees from the DRC were thought to have carried it into the country. Other factors such as malnutrition also contributed to the increased mortality rate of measles in these areas.

Yellow Fever in Africa

This mosquito-spread disease is endemic to tropical parts of Africa as well as South and Central America. However, the majority of outbreaks occur in sub-Saharan Africa where 610 million people are at risk of contracting the virus. Yellow fever has long been a challenge in these areas where it infects around 200,000 and kills 30,000 — every year. For instance, in 2020 alone, reports indicated new viral outbreaks of yellow fever in five African countries.

A safe and effective vaccine has been developed and helped reduce outbreaks in the 20th century. However, due to shortages of the vaccine and poor government implementation, the majority of the population does not receive it. Alternatively, it is usually only compulsory for travelers. Furthermore, since the virus is re-occurring, more research is required to keep adapting the vaccine to different strains of yellow fever.

The Takeaway

As evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, viral outbreaks are disruptive and have major economic and social consequences. Poor health reduces the life-span, productivity and life satisfaction of any population. These effects usually fall hardest on the world’s poor — who have less access to treatments or safe water access and sanitation.

Due to the commoditization of the pharmaceutical industry, the populations that need medical intervention most receive it the least. This is simply because they can not afford such expensive treatment. Specific antiviral treatments rarely exist. The best method to reduce the impact of viral outbreaks in impoverished countries is by building better healthcare systems and reducing poverty. As stated by Tedros Adhanom, director of the WHO, “Unless we address [the] root causes – the weak health system, the insecurity and the political instability – there will be another outbreak.”

Beti Sharew
Photo: Flickr

healthcare in the republic of congo
The Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, is a central African country with about 5.2 million residents. Since most of the country is covered in tropical forests, more than half of the population lives in two large southern cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. It’s one of Africa’s top 10 oil producers and has extensive untapped mineral resources. Despite this, The Republic of Congo faces high rates of extreme poverty due to economic crises from oil price drops as well as ongoing conflicts since the 1990s. The economic declines have diminished state funds and the conflicts arising from political unrest led to the government no longer prioritizing healthcare in the Republic of Congo.

This has created an inadequate healthcare system characterized by a lack of resources, lack of healthcare professionals, insufficient access to and inability to deliver health services. The Republic of Congo is currently facing high rates of TB, HIV, malaria and maternal mortality.

Steps Forward

Fortunately, despite these earlier challenges, the government began reprioritizing healthcare in the Republic of Congo with the help of various aid organizations. This revamped investment started in 2009 with a partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to reduce maternal mortality.

UNFPA worked closely with UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank to help the Republic of Congo government outline a maternal mortality reduction program. This program was boosted by the 6 million dollars that UNFPA made available to the country. In cities, free cesarean sections were made available as well as more family planning resources. This resulted in a 45% decline in maternal mortality from 2005-2012.

This decline was extremely promising; however, there is still much that needs to be done in Congo because its maternal mortality rates are still in line with other less-developed countries. The government acknowledged this and once again partnered with UNFPA in 2019 to further invest in a maternal mortality reduction program.

UNFPA Collaboration

This new program is focused on boosting healthcare infrastructure, facilities and services by utilizing innovative technologies. It is particularly focused on providing women in rural communities the best care possible. Some of the aspects of the program include providing solar power systems to ensure health facilities can function consistently as well as equipping midwives and doctors with portable ultrasounds and other monitoring devices to help handle high-risk pregnancies. Backpack kits filled with childbirth equipment are given to community health workers along with mobile phones to receive technical support if necessary.

While maternal mortality is a targeted intervention, the Republic of Congo has also done extensive work focusing on the healthcare system as a whole. This began in 2012 with the implementation of performance-based financing (PBF) with the help of Cordaid, an international development organization. PBF is a system in which healthcare providers are funded based on their performance and ability to meet specific objectives. It is utilized as a way to help introduce specific ways of purchasing that help health systems move towards universal health coverage.

PBF greatly improved healthcare in the Republic of Congo because it helps incentivize health workers to provide more and better care, such as assisting more births or providing more vaccinations. This, in turn, makes patients feel better and safer because their doctors are working hard, which increases the likelihood of people going in for consultations. More patients mean that rates for services will go down. Overall, with PBF, healthcare workers and facilities function better, and patients are happier and healthier.

While today, healthcare in The Republic of Congo is still facing challenges, it is vital to recognize how the government is investing and prioritizing the lives of its citizens. Creating change for the better is possible, and one must not forget to celebrate the victories.

– Paige Wallace

Photo: UNFPA

Countries with CholeraCholera is a disease of inequity that unduly sickens and kills the poorest and most vulnerable people – those without access to clean water and sanitation.” – Carissa F. Etienne, the Director of Pan American Health Organization.

Profuse vomiting, diarrhea and leg cramps, followed by intense dehydration and shock, are all symptoms of cholera. It is a highly contagious waterborne illness that can cause death within hours if left untreated. Cholera is mainly caused by drinking unsafe water, having poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene, all of which allow the toxigenic bacteria Vibrio Cholerae to infect a person’s intestine.

While cholera can be treated successfully through simple methods, such as replacing the lost fluid from excessive diarrhea, there are still many people around the globe struggling with the disease. There are 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The countries that have the greatest risk of a cholera outbreak are the ones that are going through poverty, war and natural disasters. These factors cause poor sanitation and crowded conditions, which help the spread of the disease.

Yemen

Yemen is known for being one of the countries with the most Cholera cases. The number of cholera cases in Yemen has been increasing since January 2018; the cumulative reported cases from January 2018 to January 2020 is 1,262,722, with 1,543 deaths. The number of cases in Yemen marked 1,032,481 as of 2017, which was a sharp increase from the 15,751 cases and 164 deaths in 2016. On a positive note, the numbers showed a decrease by February 19, 2020; 56,220 cases were recorded, with 20 associated deaths.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The DRC is another country with a high number of Cholera cases. There were 30,304 suspected cases of cholera and 514 deaths in 2019. Although the number of 2019 cases was smaller than that of 2017 (56,190 cases and 1,190 deaths), the 2019 data showed an increase from 2018 (27,269 cases and 472 deaths). As of May 13, 2020, 10,533 cases and 147 deaths were reported; most of these reported cases originated from Lualaba regions, Haut Katanga and North and South Kivu.

Somalia

Somalia also stands as one of the countries with the most Cholera cases. From December 2017 to May 30, 2020, there were 13,528 suspected cholera cases and 67 associated deaths in Somalia. These reported cases are from regions of Hiran, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Banadir.

Other than the three countries listed above, there are many others that are also going through Cholera outbreaks. Uganda reported a new Cholera outbreak in the Moroto district in May 2020; a month later, 682 cases and 92 deaths have been reported. Burundi also declared a new cholera outbreak this past March; 70 new cases were reported.

Helping Cholera Outbreaks

Many non-profit organizations like UNICEF are constantly working towards helping these countries and many more. A good example of a country that has shown a great decrease in cholera cases following external aid is Haiti.

Haiti experienced the first large-scale outbreak of cholera with over 665,000 cases and 8,183 deaths. After a decade of efforts to fight against cholera, the country recently reported zero new cases of cholera for an entire year. An example of how UNICEF helped Haiti is by supporting the Government’s Plan for Cholera Elimination and focusing on rapid response to diarrhea cases. However, the country still needs to keep effective surveillance systems and remain as a cholera-free country for two more years to get validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) of the successful elimination of the disease.

Alison Choi
Photo: Flickr

Distrust Breeds EbolaMore than 1,100 people in Congo have died due to the recent Ebola outbreak. New treatment facilities, additional health personnel, improved vaccinations, and awareness campaigns should effectively be controlling the spread of Ebola. In spite of this, distrust is breeding Ebola as citizens reject available aid.

However, violence and distrust are increasing the risk of Ebola in Congo. This Ebola outbreak is the second worst outbreak in history and the solution is extremely complicated. Local militias in Congo have been burning down clinics and threatening physicians since January. Historically, residents have had to fear for their own safety and flee local armed extremist groups.

Distrust of Aid

Now, with the recent outbreak of Ebola, already vulnerable communities are experiencing a double layered threat of violence and disease. Reports show that the number of people infected with Ebola rises after violent conflicts. These areas are often unsafe for health workers, increasing the risk for Ebola to spread. Much of the violence pointed toward clinics and health workers stems from a widespread distrust of the government and foreign aid. This distrust is breeding Ebola, unnecessarily increasing the risk of contraction.

Despite these challenges, many international organizations are still trying to control the spread of Ebola in Congo and provide aid to those already infected. The World Health Organization reported 119 attacks on health workers. This has inspired international organizations to approach their methods for care differently. Aid workers are attempting to provide correct information to the population in Congo in order to debunk the propaganda being spread about the government and international aid. Often in public, health workers downplay their role to try and build trust within communities. The International Rescue Committee states, “Our staff has to lie about being doctors in order to treat people.”

Continued Support

The New Humanitarian is exploring why a deep distrust of government and foreign aid exists in Congo. Social media seems to be a large player in spreading misinformation. As such, 86 percent of adults surveyed in Beni and Butembo stated they do not believe that Ebola is real. Others believe Ebola is a method used by the government to destabilize certain areas. Similarly, many people fear treatment centers are making Ebola worse. Facebook and WhatsApp are major players in spreading this false information. The Ministry of Health has said they are working to monitor these pages and adapt local messages to make sure the truth is out there.

The control of Ebola is entirely possible through vaccines and prevention efforts. Instead, distrust is breeding Ebola in Congo as risk increases. Working to end this distrust and limit violence toward health workers through the spread of true information, is essential in stopping the spread of Ebola. The World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and other health agencies and organizations are working to provide more aid to those affected by Ebola, hoping to prevent spread beyond the region.

Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

Ebola Epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
On May 8, 2018, The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of the virus disease Ebola in the North Kivu Province. The Democratic Republic of the Congo declared the epidemic over on July 24, 2018. This represented the ninth Ebola epidemic in this African country since 1976.

The Development of Ebola Epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The disease had been slowly building to the epidemic, even catastrophic levels. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), the country had seen and been aware of the virus in the area since the April 4. The organization reports that, in April, a total of 44 people had been infected with the Ebola virus, which included 23 deaths.

However, in May, this number was disputed, as only 3 new cases were confirmed. The World Health Organization later narrowed the origins of this particular epidemic and found that it began in the northwestern area of Bikoro, which was the place where first cases were recorded on May 8. From this, The World Health Organization identified nearly 400 contacts of Ebola victims that are currently and continuously being followed up.

The History of Ebola Outbreaks in DRC

This isn’t the first Ebola outbreak the country has seen, however. Though Ebola outbreaks are uncommon, the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced multiple flare-ups of the virus- nine since 1976. One such flare-up happened in not so distant past, in 2017 to be exact, with five confirmed cases that were quickly dealt with. The fast response and eradication convinced many, including the World Health Organization and health officials that the 2018 Ebola epidemic in the country will be easily dealt with. Yet, this prediction proved to be optimistic and naive since, within a month of declaring the outbreak of an epidemic, two health officials were among those affected.

The Declaration of Epidemic

The World Health Organization was very quick to declare this year’s Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a global emergency to public health. Unlike the Ebola epidemic that ravaged Western Africa in 2014, The World Health Organization declared a state of emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo swiftly after seeing the number of cases increase.

Moreover, the organization made an immediate urgent request for $57 million to stop the spread of Ebola. In total, the money received amounted to $63 million, exceeding the appeal by $6 million. Among those who contributed to the funding towards ending this Ebola epidemic in the DRC was USAID who contributed with $5.3 million.

On July 24, 2018, Al Jazeera reported that the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been declared over. The virus had lasted a total of 10 weeks and had taken a total of 33 lives. Fortunately, the disease had remained contained, as Bikoro, the epicenter of the epidemic is a remote area of the country.

Although the people that were infected as a result of last Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo have completed their treatment, and have thus been declared cured, the health ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as The World Health Organization are monitoring the situation in the country closely to ensure the virus does not spread.

Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Poverty in the Democratic Republic of The Congo (DRC) can be interpreted as a combination of spillover conflict from neighboring African nations, as well as an embedded culture of governmental corruption. In the text below, the top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will address the underlying causes, as well as how DRC has been able to improve impoverished conditions in recent years.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. The Democratic Republic of Congo has a population of approximately 78 million people. Out of this number, 80 percent of the population live in extreme poverty. DRC is classified internationally as the country of medium concerning human development. Indicators of human development measure parameters such as population’s well being, regarding life expectancy, child/maternal mortality, infant mortality, malnutrition and mortality associated with a disease.
  2. Wealth is unequally distributed, far better in urban over rural areas and wealth is a determinant for access to sanitation and medical services. The poor in rural areas are most affected.
  3. Poverty is also a direct consequence of the political conflict that occurred during the 1990s, called the First and Second Congo War. The country has seen a dramatic transformation from a state engulfed in brutal genocidal violence into a relatively stable post-conflict society. Poverty is a byproduct of political violence that in turn has significant economic and social repercussions. The consequences of the war can be seen even today, as more than 900,000 people were displaced from the country. in 2016 War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children orphans or living on the streets.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, poverty and development are linked. As African nations develop, their populations rise as a result. However, the flip side to this is that malnutrition and new diseases spread as the existing system of governance cannot keep up with the uptick of the population.
  5. DRC transitioned from a Marxist to free market economy that has relied heavily on wealth from the mining industry. Upon the transition, the new economy has not been managed appropriately, as wealth is spent lavishly on the patronage of government officials instead of humanitarian efforts.
  6. War impacted on poverty since infrastructure communities that rely on for clean water and sanitation were destroyed, contributing to the spread of disease. Waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria are the most common and deadly in the country. Less than one-fourth of DRC’s population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation services. DRC has a 45 percent inoculation rate of malaria, resulting from lack of access to cleaning drinking water and poor nutrition. Approximately 40 percent of deaths in the country is related to malaria.
  7. DRC’s governmental structure has had a tumultuous relationship with the population, engaging in genocidal violence during internal conflict, and an unstable kleptocratic government post-conflict system. Historically, the country functions under an economy and government of affection. Primarily, government investment is spent on personal relations to buy popular support, rather than on social programs that would earn support.
  8. The people of the DRC look to the international community and nongovernmental organizations for assistance. The Nouvelle Esperance (New Hope) program offered great assistance in the Millennium Declaration that is based in human development and humanitarian assistance but also has specific goals to eliminate poverty all together using a strategy that fosters national and international stability. The Global Partnership plays an integral role in improving education in the DRC, increasing access to education by providing $20 million in learning materials and renovating 728 classrooms. Other notable contributions have come from UNICEF and USAID that aid and monitor the quality of the services that the country’s government provides.
  9. Significant assistance programs have been provided by transnational banks such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. African Development Bank’s helps reduce infant and maternal mortality rates through programs that equally distribute medical supplies. World Bank’s helps with the program aimed to increase standards of living through sanitation, energy and various accessible social services. World Bank has 29 total projects active in the country representing a total of $3.8 billion. World Bank has also funded medical projects assisting the DRC in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis. Since World Bank began humanitarian projects in the DRC in the post-conflict era of the 1990s, there is a vast improvement since the strategy has shifted away from emergency assistance programs to sustainable growth strategies.
  10. Different organizations are helping the country’s situation. With the help of the U.N. which the Democratic Republic of Congo joined in 2000, the country has successfully been able to demobilize and improve health and education opportunities. Britain’s Department of International Development has developed an initiative that aims to support long-term programs that tackle the underlying issues of poverty, with the goal of cutting the number of people in poverty in half, as well as ensuring all children have a primary education, sexual equality, a reduction in child and mother death rates and environmental protection. Other notable contributions have come from the French and Belgian governments that foster public management of resources as well as public administrative support.

These top 10 facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an understanding of not only how poverty developed in the country and the effects poverty has had on the people, but also working solutions to address this issue. The Democratic Republic of the Congo can also provide an example of success for other post-conflict societies in improving poverty rates.

– Kimberly Keysa
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in the Congo
The Congo or the Republic of the Congo has high poverty and hunger rates. Malnutrition, anemia and stunted growth have been the direct consequences of poverty and hunger. The top 10 facts of hunger in the Congo presented below detail the different causes and effects of hunger in the country.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in The Congo

  1. Fourteen percent of families in Congo are food insecure and 47 percent of the population lives under the national poverty line.
  2. The population is heavily dependant on farming of tubers and cassava. These food ingredients do not supply enough nutrients and reflect a lack of diversity in the everyday diet in the Congo.
  3. More than 75 percent of food in the Congo is imported. The direct result of this fact are high food prices that are especially dangerous because of the high poverty rates. However, the Congo does have the ability to change this statistic because even the population is constantly growing, only around 2 percent of the farmable land is used to produce food. The Agriculture Orientation Index for Government Expenditures score was 0.66 in 2010, which is an increase from 0.19 in 2004. Still, it reflects the government’s inadequate spending on agriculture and room for improvement.
  4. In 2016, violence broke out in Pool, a southeastern part of the country, displacing 100,000 people. The conflict inflamed the existing hunger crisis and malnutrition rates passed the 15 percent critical threshold. It did come to an end with a ceasefire in December 2017.
  5. Hunger has harmful effects on children and can disrupt their growth and development process. More than 12 percent of children under the age of 5 are underweight and 21.2 percent experienced slowed growth. Thirty percent of the population is stunted as a result of malnutrition.
  6. Hunger can be especially harmful to infants, who are more vulnerable to its effects. Malnutrition is the fifth cause of premature death and has been for over 10 years, with infant mortality at 3.3 percent. Additionally, only 5.6 percent of children aged between 6 months and 2 years receive a minimum acceptable diet (MAD).
  7. Anemia is the second most common cause of disability in the Congo and is a direct result of nutrition deficiencies. In 2012, 66.7 percent of children under the age of 5 and 54.2 percent of women had anemia. There have been attempts to fight this issue, including supplements and micronutrient powders for children.
  8. Thirty-five percent of people live in rural areas, where the effects of hunger are more dramatic. Children under the age of 5 in rural areas are 1.9 times more likely to be underweight than those in urban areas. Stunting rates for children under the abovementioned age are also higher, with 42.5 percent of the rural population being too short for their age compared to 27.2 percent in urban areas.
  9. Some indicators of hunger show signs of progress. While there have been highs and lows, the prevalence of undernourishment has gone down from 35.9 percent in 2001 to 30.5 percent in 2016. The percent of stunted children under the age of 5 has also gone down in a 10-year span, from 31.5 percent in 2005 to 21.2 percent in 2015.
  10. The World Food Programme is working towards their “Zero Hunger” goal in the Congo through food and voucher distribution, refugee aid and nutrition programs. They distribute food and vouchers that can be exchanged refugees and displaced people food. They provide nutritious foods for students in rural areas, some of which comes from local farmers. They have also established “social safety nets” that require HIV/TB patients and pregnant women to make regular doctor visits and check-ups in return for food vouchers.

While these top 10 facts about hunger in Congo demonstrate the severity of the situation, progress has been and is still being made to improve the situation. Through the efforts of various organizations, such as the World Food Program, success is achievable.

Massarath Fatima
Photo: Flickr

facts about genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has experienced ongoing violence since the mid-1990s. Although the DRC has the potential to be one of the richest countries in the world with its vast resources, parties and rebels in the DRC are taking and profiting from the resources and committing mass murder in the process. These are seven facts about genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Facts About Genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  1. Many believe the genocide committed by the DRC is a result of and closely connected to the conflict in Rwanda in 1994. Fighting still continues today on the Rwanda-DRC border, caused by the persecution of Rwandan Hutu refugees who fled to the DRC. A human rights activist from the border city of Goma told the BBC, “People don’t talk about it enough… but the Rwandan genocide was like flicking over the first domino.”
  2. The main participants in the genocide and violence in the DRC include the national army, the Armed Forces of the DRC and diverse groups of rebels throughout the country, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and Mayi-Mayi militias.
  3. The atrocities of the genocide not only include mass murders, but also abductions, rape, child labor and the displacement of persons. The DRC has been involved in the conflict since 1996, which is estimated to be the cause of more than six million deaths. Because of widespread violence, more than three million people have been forced to leave their homes and many continue to go without humanitarian assistance.
  4. Many of the six million deaths have been indirect consequences of the war. Diseases such as malnutrition and malaria have run rampant due to the country’s political instability and lack of infrastructure.
  5. The violence is far from over. In August 2017, the U.N. reported that in the DRC’s Kasai province, an estimated 2,000 people have been murdered due to ethnicity-based violence and that several mass graves have since been discovered in the area.
  6. Since December 2017, more than 34 villages have been ransacked by Lendu militiamen, who have killed many, including women and children, while also leaving many Hema people homeless. The DRC government has since decided not to intervene. However, the U.N. did warn the government months beforehand about a potential ethnic conflict that could lead to the deaths of many.
  7. There have since been efforts and intervention to address DRC’s genocide. In 1999, the U.N. created the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in order to protect civilians and transform the country. In 2013, the U.N. extended MONUSCO further, making it first U.N. mission to include offensive action to strengthen the peacekeeping operation. The U.N.’s intervention brigade has since helped defeat the M23 rebels and continues to extend its mandate to stop other rebel groups.

These facts about genocide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are only a portion of the complex situation in the DRC. With the country’s weak governance and many rebel groups, the DRC’s people have been constrained by too many years of violence and conflict. Nevertheless, by putting a stop to corruption, human rights violations and rebel groups through continued international efforts, the DRC has the potential to be a rich and prosperous country.

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

Starbucks' Partnership with ECIThe Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) was founded in 2010 by Ben Affleck. The goal of the ECI is to work in advocacy and grant-making at the local community level and to help the people who live in the eastern Congo. The ECI works incredibly hard to boost the coffee and cocoa industry as well as establish a successful and sustainable community there. Starbucks’ partnership with ECI is one among many in both the private and public sectors to create new opportunities in the Congo.

Background of the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a population of 75 million people and has some of the most fertile lands in the world. Most of the farming communities are found around Lake Kivu, in the eastern part of the country. Despite the conflict that has been ongoing in the DRC, the Lake Kivu area farmers have prevailed to provide some of the world’s best coffee and cocoa.

The DRC continues to work towards peace, with the completed Amani program for disarmament and the current Stabilization Program for Eastern DRC focusing on education, health and reintegrating soldiers into their communities.

The Success of Starbucks’ Partnership with ECI

Starbucks’ partnership with ECI began at the end of 2014. The goal of this partnership is to help sustainable agriculture and production of coffee grow in the Congo, mainly in the DRC. There are further plans to work with an additional 10,000 farmers and continue to build up the coffee industry in the Congo.

In 2014, when Starbucks’ partnership with ECI first began, the primary suppliers of coffee were in the Lake Kivu area. Over 4,500 farmers sold their coffee to Starbucks and were able to triple their income. With this increased income, the farmers were better able to send their children to school and gain access to healthcare.

By 2015, more than 4,000 farmers were able to export their coffee to Starbucks, who then sold the farmers’ coffee for a limited time at certain locations. Starbucks plans to purchase more Congolese coffee every year to support the ECI, the more than 10,000 farmers and their communities.

The Coffees

In 2016, Starbucks’ partnership with ECI continued, with even more specialty coffee becoming available at 1,500 locations across the United States and Canada, as well as online. This launch took place on March 22 and was a single-origin specialty coffee from South Kivu. The limited release from Lake Kivu included coffee from 4,500 farmers. The successful release was the result of a four-year project funded by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation and USAID.

Since 2015, there have been annual limited-edition coffees from Lake Kivu that have had bold and flavorful blends, available as part of the Starbucks Reserve coffee selection. All of this has been made possible because of Starbucks’ partnership with ECI.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr