Increasing violence, displacement, and a lack of basic services have caused levels of hunger and malnutrition in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to soar. Concern, with US Government funding, is on the ground providing assistance.
Extraordinary levels of displacement
Since the start of the year, more than 2,750 people have been killed in the eastern part of DRC, and many rural communities have had no choice but to abandon their fields for fear of attacks. As a result, over the last year food production has fallen by 25% in some areas of the country.
Since March 2022, 2.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. 330,000 people were displaced in March 2023 alone. The DRC now has 6.3 million internally displaced people, the highest number of any African country.
The country is the fourth largest in Africa, and yet people are being forced to live in cramped and dirty makeshift sites or camps. Moreover, outbreaks of Ebola, measles, cholera and other diseases are worsening the humanitarian crisis. Many people are living with disabilities.
Huge levels of food insecurity
Approximately 6.7 million people (34 percent of the population) are in crisis and there are emergency levels of food insecurity in these eastern provinces. This is a 10 percent rise in food insecurity since the conflict escalated.
Recent forecasts indicate that 25.8 million people in the DRC will face acute food insecurity in 2023 – the highest number worldwide. A person is food insecure ‘when they lack regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.’ [FAO]
Where access to food is available, in North Kivu alone, the price of staples such as flour and beans has increased by over 30% in the space of a year.
Women and children particularly at risk
In the first three months of 2023, over 31,000 cases of gender-based violence were recorded. The real number is likely much higher, as sexual violence often goes unreported.
Violations against children are also on the rise, with increasing levels of child recruitment, abductions, murder, mutilation, and sexual violence.
What is Concern doing to help?
Concern has been working in the DRC since 1994 and currently has over 300 staff working on emergency, livelihoods, agriculture, and health programming in the east and south of the country. Over $20 million in funding for our emergency work comes from the U.S. government.
In 2022, we supported over 150,000 individuals displaced by conflict and natural disasters with emergency cash transfers/vouchers and food distributions. Last year our gender and protection teams also carried out gender trainings and sensitization in local communities, reaching 3,866 women and 2,714 men, while our school workshops to raise awareness from an early age about equality reached 1,215 children.
Over 350,000 individuals living in rural communities and displacement sites in eastern DRC were reached with water, hygiene, and sanitation interventions, including the provision of access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation through the trucking of emergency water supplies, the rehabilitation and construction of water points, toilets and showers and community hygiene promotion activities carried out by Concern’s expert teams.