Over 89,000,000 people live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), making it the 16th most populated nation. Located in southern Africa, the DRC is one of the world’s poorest nations with around 72% of the population living in poverty. Sadly, infants and children are the main victims of this poverty making the need for help vital. Significant efforts from many different organizations have helped to save thousands of lives. Here are five important facts about child poverty in the DRC.
5 Facts About Child Poverty in the DRC
- Mortality Rate: The DRC has an 84.8 under-5 mortality rate out of every 1,000 births. This means that for every 100 children born, eight of them will not reach the age of 6. However, this number has dropped exponentially in the past 20 years due to the work of agencies such as USAID which has invested $34,000,000 to the cause. In 2014, USAID began the Acting on the Call Report which uses data analysis to pinpoint where it needs to allocate its funding. Helping mothers both before and after birth with medical supplies has saved thousands of children because of this data analysis. In the six years since, the under-5 mortality rate has dropped by more than 15.
- Education: Providing quality learning opportunities in school is a crucial aspect of breaking the poverty cycle. Over 7,000,000 children in the DRC cannot receive an education because of poorly funded schools and a lack of supplies. Improvement is coming as the government in the DRC has stated that it will allocate 20% of its spending budget to education in 2018 and maintain it at that level until 2025. This increased funding has led to more children reading and writing as now the DRC posts an 85% literacy rate for all children ages 15-24. Still, young girls experience discrimination as only 79% between 15 and 24-years-old are literate, proving that more work is necessary.
- Clean Water: Access to clean water is important to anyone, regardless of age. In the DRC, only 43% of people have access to basic drinking water services. This lack of water has contributed to the high infant mortality rates and will impact the Congolese for their entire lives. Projects to bring clean water to all citizens are occurring but the government is unable to expedite the process. Reports have determined that donors provide nearly 99% of water sector financing in the DRC, making every contribution meaningful. From 2008 to 2017, 2.3 million DRC citizens gained access to clean water as a result of Global Waters and other water relief efforts.
- Malnutrition: Right from birth, children in the DRC are in a food shortage. UNICEF has created a system to detect potential malnourishment by collecting data on child nutrition and household food security through a network of 110 sites. This has helped make sure that children and their families who may need assistance are identified and provided food. Additionally, Actions Against Hunger helped nearly 200,000 Congolese in 2019 alone gain food security and nutrition.
- Play Time: War and violence have become a common occurrence in the DRC. This has created a dangerous environment for young children to play with friends. Hearing these stories motivated Bethany Frank to create a toy to help DRC’s youth deal with trauma. PlayGarden, as it is known, is a small sanctuary that can include spatial awareness games that can reduce the likelihood of relieving symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many times, the focus on poverty eradication efforts goes towards resources and neglects the fact that children need to play.
Child poverty in the DRC is challenging to combat. But advancements in clean water, food and education will help pave the road to better conditions. The work that some are doing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has not reached completion, but many children have benefitted from what they have accomplished so far.
– Zachary Hardenstine