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Rich in natural resources and dense rainforests, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a vibrant and beautiful country located in central Africa. The country struggles with many socioeconomic problems that severely impact the majority of the population. High infant and maternal mortality rates, malnutrition, lack of clean water sources and limited access to education contribute to high levels of poverty. According to the United Nations Development Programme, approximately 77 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 a day, meaning that close to 64 million individuals live below the poverty line. Millions are in need and three key organizations have met some of those needs by providing humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Solidarités International
Solidarités International began its work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2000. Its mission is to lower the prevalence of cholera in the country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a nation in which cholera is endemic. The conflict between armed militia and the central government has contributed to the high rates of the disease due to lack of clean drinking water for individuals  displaced by the violence. Solidarités International developed an epidemic warning system by partnering with communities and local authorities. It also rehabilitates and disinfects water sources to prevent more outbreaks of cholera. The organization has established a home chlorination program that uses chlorinated solutions produced by local Congolese, helping to empower and lift individuals out of poverty. Solidarités International has provided humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo by assisting close to one million individuals.

International Rescue Committee 
The International Rescue Committee began working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996. It provides a wide variety of services and support to individuals primarily in Eastern Congo, including emergency assistance. The IRC is also committed to training health and government workers, assisting with rehabilitation and providing essential medical services. It has trained thousands of teachers, giving nearly 500,000 Congolese children access to basic education. Violence against women and girls is widespread throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the IRC provides not only counseling and medical services to survivors of sexual assault, but also legal assistance. The organization’s humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of the Congo assisted 2.3 million people in 2015, and its goal is to reach 8.4 million by 2020.

Justice Rising
Justice Rising has one mission — to bring peace to communities affected by war. While the organization is fairly new, its work has had profound impacts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Justice Rising currently has a few schools throughout the country. One school, La Lampe, is located in a former refugee camp for internally displaced persons. The school was recently studied by the Congolese government and was said to be the “first truly successful school in the region.”

Justice Rising has also introduced what it calls “The Storytelling Movement” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2014, the organization’s psychologist came to the country and trained a team of individuals to address trauma. Narrative Exposure Therapy training or “The Storytelling Movement” can help survivors give a voice to some of their most painful experiences. According to research studies, when individuals are able to tell their stories, the psychological impact of trauma may decrease.

These three organizations have provided necessary humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and their work has impacted millions of individuals in need. However, the country is still in need of further support, as millions are still living in poverty.

— Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr