A woman selling her wares at Kabalo market in south-eastern DRC.
Photo: WFP/Olivier Le Blanc
Our humanitarian assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Armed conflict, severe malnourishment, epidemics and sudden natural disasters are four types of crisis that have affected large parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo over recent years. Sida provides humanitarian aid to the country, both via the UN and other partner organisations.
According to the UN’s appraisal, one in 13 people in DRC is affected by crisis in one way or another. In the eastern part of the country, one fifth of the population is affected. The absolute majority of these are women, children and elderly people. The UN's Humanitarian Response Plan targets 6.7 million people. This year's UN appeal is USD 748 million.
A large part of the humanitarian needs in DRC can be traced back to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, when large numbers of refugees made their way to DRC. The conflict lives on and several groups have armed themselves and are carrying out acts of violence against civilians. Many children are recruited by force. Sexual violence is common and the maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. Protection issues are therefore central to Sida's humanitarian support for the country.
Apart from extreme poverty and protracted conflicts with great humanitarian needs, parts of the country are also prone to recurring natural disasters such as floods, strong winds and landslides.
Millions of people in flight
The lack of healthcare combined with poor conditions also mean that a quarter of the population is exposed to recurring epidemics. There are no complete and reliable statistics on people who have been forced to leave their homes, but OCHA estimates that in early 2017, there were 2.2 million internally displaced persons; one year earlier there were 1.6 million. In addition, UNHCR calculates that DRC has half a million refugees from neighbouring countries such as Burundi, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
At the same time, 900,000 people have returned to their place of origin in recent years. It is usually poor communities with meagre resources that receive those forced to flee, and this makes it difficult for them to support themselves. Domestic organisations have been very weak and have been opposed by their own government. The support from countries such as Sweden to the UN led Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) has allowed several local organisations to grow and develop.
In 2016, 6.9 million people were in acute need of aid in the form of food and supplies. 4.2 million children were malnourished, half of whom seriously.
Sida's humanitarian assistance to DRC
Among the priorities of humanitarian assistance to DRC are protection of the civilian population, access to food and basic service and the combating of widespread malnutrition. Sweden and Sida have actively worked to ensure that actors and programmes in the country take into account the particularly vulnerable situation of women.
Sida's humanitarian assistance to DRC amounted to SEK 246 million in 2016. This means that Sweden was one of the five largest donors in the country. Sweden was also the second largest donor to DRC's humanitarian fund, donating 42 per cent of the total support. In 2017 the planned Swedish support will initially amount to SEK 130 million. However, this amount can change, depending on the development.
Although humanitarian needs continue to be high across the country, results have been achieved over the years. UNICEF reports that mortality for children under 5 years old has decreased by 30 per cent since 2007. A total of 4.5 million people have been reached by humanitarian assistance.
Sweden supports initiatives that link long-term development programmes with humanitarian efforts and reconstruction approaches. There are positive examples of where developmental support has decreased humanitarian need, e.g. within health and employment programmes.
Sida supports programmes to combat malnutrition through Action Against Hunger (ACF) and the Norwegian Refugee Council. Sida also supports protection and social assistance contributions to the civilian population through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Oxfam, Save the Children and UNHCR. A large part of Sida's aid also goes to the humanitarian country fund, from which local and international organisations may apply for support.
Besides this, Sida supports the humanitarian response in full, through the UN's humanitarian coordination office OCHA.