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
- Fourteen percent of families in Congo are food insecure and 47 percent of the population lives under the national poverty line.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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