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Top 10 Facts About Poverty in The Democratic Republic of The Congo
The facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reveal that poverty in the country is a result of the combination of conflict spilling over from neighboring African nations and an embedded culture of governmental corruption.

The facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will address the underlying causes and how the 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 DRC has a population of approximately 77 million people out of which 80 percent live in extreme poverty. Internationally, the DRC is ranked medium in terms of human development. Indicators of human development measure a population’s well-being, i.e. its life expectancy, infant/maternal mortality, child mortality, malnutrition and mortality associated with diseases such as malaria.
  2. The well-being of a population is disproportionate: it is far better in urban areas since wealth determines access to sanitation and medical services. Therefore, the poor in rural areas are most affected by the consequences of poverty.
  3. Poverty is a byproduct of political conflict during the 1990s, i.e. the DRC’s involvement in African War, a political/ethnic conflict from neighboring Rwanda in 1994. The country has seen a dramatic transformation from a state engulfed in brutal genocidal violence to a relatively stable post-conflict society. One-third of the DRC’s population has been internally displaced as a result of the country’s long history of political instability and violence. War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children as orphans or homeless.
  4. Contrary to popular belief, poverty and development are linked. As the African nations’ economies develop, the population also increases steadily. The flip side to this is that malnutrition and new diseases are spreading as the existing system of governance is not equipped to keep up with the uptick in population.
  5. The DRC transitioned from a Marxist to Free Market economy, which 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 patronage for government officials instead of humanitarian efforts. It is for this reason that the DRC has been subjected to numerous the military coups and ceaseless internal conflict.
  6. The civil war has had a huge impact on health and poverty in the DRC by destroying infrastructure that communities relied on for clean water and sanitation. It has contributed to the spread of disease. Waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and malaria are the most common and deadly. Three percent of those who contract cholera die due to inadequate treatment. Less than one-fourth of the DRC’s population has access to clean drinking water and sanitation services. It has a 45 percent inoculation rate of malaria that has resulted from a lack of access to cleaning drinking water and poor nutrition. Approximately two out of every five deaths in the DRC is caused by malaria.
  7. The DRC’s governmental structure has had a tumultuous relationship with their population, engaging in genocidal violence during internal conflict, and an unstable kleptocratic government system post-conflict. Historically, the DRC functions under a government that spends 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 nonprofits for assistance. La Nouvelle Esperance (The New Hope) program offered tremendous assistance in the Millennium Declaration, which is based on human development and humanitarian assistance. It also has specific goals to eliminate poverty altogether 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 as well as establishing learning centers. Other notable contributions have come from UNICEF and USAID.
  9. There are significant assistance programs from transnational banks such as The World Bank and African Bank. African Bank’s program helps reduce infant and maternal mortality rates through programs which distribute medical supplies. The World Bank’s program aims to increase standards of living through sanitation, energy and various accessible social services. It has 24 projects and 57 trust funds as well as $2.51 billion in commitments to eradicate extreme poverty with only 42 percent of its total resources used so far. 63 percent of these resources are to be spread across various sectors including road and transportation infrastructure, energy, water and urban development. The World Bank has also funded medical projects assisting the DRC in the successful eradication of poliomyelitis. There is a great improvement to be noted as its strategy has shifted from emergency assistance programs to sustainable growth strategies.
  10. With the help of the U.N. and Great Britain, the DRC has successfully demobilized and improved health and education opportunities. The British government has proven to be a world leader in combating global poverty. Britain’s Department of International Development has developed an initiative that aims to support long-term programs that tackle the underlying issues of poverty by ensuring primary education, gender equality, a reduction in child and mother death rates as well as environmental protection. Other notable contributions have come from the French and Belgian governments through the WBG, fostering public management of resources as well as public administrative support.

The facts about poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an understanding of not only the history and effects of poverty in the country but also working solutions to address the issue.

– Kimberly Keysa

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Democratic Republic Of The Congo
Since the development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo—commonly known as the DRC or the DR Congo—the nation has been the center of what many historians refer to as “Africa’s World War.” Although the country is vastly populated with an innumerable amount of resources, poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo still defines the lives of children and adults.

 

Examining Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

Causes

One of the main causes of poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is health threats, specifically a malaria outbreak, which resulted in approximately 6.7 million cases nationwide in 2009. Infectious diseases, like malaria, divert intentions for economic investments, threaten public health and contribute to child mortality rates.

Yet, health risks are not the only notable sources of poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is estimated that there are about 4 million orphans whose population has been created not only by disease but also by the intense conflict in the area.

However, the violent area of South Kivu is gradually returning to a more peaceful and prosperous region, improving the lives of people in the conflict zones.

Solutions 

In 2001, the World Bank reengaged with the DRC by providing financial and technical assistance through the application of several emergency plans to aid in the recovery of the health of the region’s people.

Projects like the Karhale Water Supply Project improved public access to potable water for 2,750 households in Bukavu, reducing travel time by placing water standpipes in strategic locations. With more access to potable water, Bukavu significantly reduced the transmission of water-borne illnesses, like the parasitic worm infection, schistosomiasis.

More recently, the World Bank’s assistance has shifted its efforts to supporting institutional capacity through the Enhancing Governance Capacity Project (PRCG) and the Public Administration Capacity Building Project (PRC-GAP).

Before the PRCG closed in February 2016, the project implemented new human resource management and public finance systems in the central and provincial governments of the region, which allowed the South Kivu Province to double its revenue between 2009 and 2014.

The project’s final goal is to reorganize the current government to permit the development of economic performance at the local level. Currently, the project has facilitated the rehabilitation of eight centers to facilitate the ongoing training of government officials throughout the nation.

The DRC will be able to reduce its dependency on external technical assistance via resources such as training at universities and higher education institutions. The Catholic University of Bukavu benefitted directly from this project, as it now runs one of the most recognized centers for excellence for the area.

When visiting Bukavu for the first time, the World Bank Country Director for the DRC, Ahmadou Moustapha Ndiaye, explained in a 2016 press release how the World Bank progresses with the success of the nation. “Our goal is to lay the foundation for sustainable development in the South Kivu Province, and throughout the country, which entails establishing efficient and transparent institutions and management systems.”

Veronica Ung-Kono

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A country two thirds the size of Europe, and rich in mineral and agricultural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo  is also the site of the “deadliest conflict since World War II,” which has killed more than 5.4 million people. The country is recovering from this civil war, but its infrastructure has been nearly destroyed. As a result, poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is widespread and severe, and it requires urgent attention.

 

Breakdown of Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

 

Effects of the War
Today, the effects of the conflict in the DRC are extremely apparent. Life expectancy is 49 years compared to the global average of 70 years, and 168 children born out of every 1,000 die before reaching the age of five. In 2011, more than a quarter of the population was sickened by malaria. More than 2.3 million citizens remain displaced from their homes within the country, and thousands more have fled to neighboring countries for refuge from the ongoing violence.

Present Challenges
Though these statistics have improved slightly since the peak of the civil war in the mid-1990s, 71 percent of the DRC’s population continues to live below the poverty line. Experts say that the country’s scale is a primary factor causing many to die from “easily preventable conditions” such as malnutrition, malaria, and pneumonia. Humanitarian and aid organizations struggle to serve the DRC’s large population as “renewed rebel activities” in eastern provinces continue to displace large segments of the population.

Addressing Poverty
The World Bank reopened in the DRC in 2001 after operations were suspended for almost ten years because of political instability and corruption in the country. The Bank has committed $3.1 billion to the DRC, aiming to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, decrease corruption in public and private sectors, and rehabilitate the country’s health and education systems.

The United Nations has also been instrumental in the DRC’s recovery. The Security Council established MONUSCO in 1999, supplying peacekeeping troops to the region. In addition to the UN’s peacekeeping efforts, USAID provides emergency assistance to the displaced and has established long-term programs to address food security, democracy, education, the environment, and global health in the DRC.

Results
Since late 2010, USAID has given a comprehensive malaria prevention package in 70 health zones in the DRC, greatly reducing the incidence of malaria in the country. USAID also provides health services to pregnant women with HIV/AIDs, preventing them from passing the virus on to their children. The DRC happens to be one of the five countries in the world that accounts for half of all child deaths, but USAID recently provided health services to more than 12 million people who previously lacked access to healthcare.

The situation in the DRC remains one of the most urgent humanitarian crises in the world, but efforts to relieve the widespread poverty are proving successful. In order to maintain this trajectory, though, continued funding for USAID will be critical.

Katie Bandera

Sources: BBC, Global Issues, USAID, WHO
Photo: BBC