The Democratic Republic of Congo hosts one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, centered particularly in the east. Despite its vast wealth of human and natural resources, the country struggles with many challenges. A lack of infrastructure, stunted economy and weak governance cause serious hardship and inhibit development efforts.
Over two decades of armed conflict has displaced 4.3 million people within the country. The province of North Kivu hosts a quarter of the internally displaced population, and has become a perpetually insecure and hostile environment.
Demographic pressures, rapid urbanization, food insecurity and youth unemployment compound looming threats on the horizon. The UN reports that 13.1 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance.
- 9.9 million people are severely food insecure
- More than 2 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition
- 6.4 million people are at risk of epidemics, including 4.8 million people who are vulnerable to cholera
Mercy Corps is responding to the emergency needs of internally displaced people and host communities and strengthening their resilience to recurring stresses and shocks.
- Emergency response: Providing cash assistance so people can prioritize their own immediate basic needs.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene: Providing access to safe drinking water for more than 1.5 million displaced and conflict-affected people. Organizing chlorination of communal water sources. Building familial and public latrines. Improving knowledge and practice of basic hygiene behaviors.
- Education and protection: Facilitating the reintegration of 3,000 displaced out-of-school children into local schools. Training local teachers on trauma and psychosocial support.
- Food security: Addressing the root causes of food insecurity by increasing the production of smallholder farmers and reducing malnutrition.
- Economic opportunity: Supporting sustainable livelihood development of small farmers. Promoting links between value chain actors.
DR Congo: Rainstorms, Lava and a Human Flood
I recently watched as the rain fell for hours over Goma. From the comfort of a house, rain in tropical Africa is spectacular, even magic. But for the thousands displaced Congolese waiting out the storm in their twenty-four square foot huts made of sticks and banana leaves, it is hell.
DR Congo: Lost and Found
Yesterday I went out on the food distribution, our first. We got lost, somehow, driving the minivan over the rough farm paths of Lac Vert.
DR Congo: The Key is Hope
Like thousands of Congolese children, young Giselle's path to relative safety in Goma has been grueling. But, with your help, Mercy Corps is offering them much-needed support once they reach their destination.
DR Congo: 'L’eau, c’est la vie!'
I never found Eduardo, but the distribution was exciting. Mercy Corps' first work in Congo. We helped AVSI, an Italian NGO, set up and distribute water to 2,500 families. It started off a bit rocky.
DR Congo: Instructions
Finally, some real work! Actually helping people instead of listening to their stories and driving home. Mugur has found us a niche. He’s been frantically working every angle and contact as the IDPs flooded into town this week. Being new to Congo, it’s been tough to break in.
DR Congo: A Day in the Office
Mugur came back from a security briefing at the UN with the following updates:
DR Congo: Rain and IDPs
A strange couple of days. Yesterday, Thursday, the fighting intensified. Pretty much the whole town of Sake emptied and came here, and they are still coming. Now there are some 30,000 IDPs in Goma, most up in Mugunga.
DR Congo: Chanceline
One day last week I visited the health center in Muja, a town 15 miles north of Goma, just west of the army checkpoint. It is a place of crushing poverty, even by DRC standards. Three-fourths of the children are undernourished. People earn less than a dollar a day.
DR Congo: Questions
Spent today conducting assessment surveys with Fernand, one of our Congolese staff. Basically, this means going door to door and asking people 61 questions ranging from how much money they earn and what they eat each day to where they go for health care.