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FAO seeks US$ 21 million to improve living conditions of DRC's crisis-affected populations

DR Congo
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1. Situation analysis

With 80 million ha of arable land and over 1 100 minerals and precious metals identified, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has the potential to provide food for over 1 billion people, eradicate hunger and poverty in the country and to become a driver of African growth. However, the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis (June 2017) reported a 30 percent increase of people living in food insecurity nationally since 2016 mainly due to the crisis in the Kasaï and Tanganyika provinces. About 7.7 million people are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity (Phases 3 and 4), representing 11 percent of the rural population.

Conflict, mainly affecting eastern provinces for the past two decades, has since broken out elsewhere in the country, causing widespread insecurity and population displacements in North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, Tanganyika, Haut-Katanga and Kasaï provinces. Conflict erupted in Kasaï Central in August 2016 between the Kamuina Nsapu militias and the country’s army forces, causing the displacement of over 1.4 million people. As of July 2017, there are 3.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country, up from 2.2 million in December 2016. People fleeing have not been able to tend their fields. With the exception of cassava and sweet potatoes, all other crops, such as maize, cowpea and rice, have been lost or burnt.

The impact of the conflict’s rapid geographical expansion has been dramatic for a population already affected by poverty before the crisis, with around 74 percent of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day. This is further compounded by a limited dietary diversity and the lack of livelihood opportunities and social, economic and agricultural investments.

In the southeastern part of the country, in the Tanganyika province, the resurgence of old intercommunal violence has forced people from their homes for over a year now. Between September 2016 and June 2017, the number of IDPs has increased from 370 370 to 565 250 (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Kalemie).

In particular, women continue to face disproportionate economic, social, and health challenges in the country, including constraints in access to income, land, education and reproductive healthcare. Women in general and young girls in particular have been especially affected by this conflict. Reports have highlighted an increase in cases of sexual abuse and early marriage. Between August 2016 and May 2017, 1 429 cases of sexual and gender-based violence have been recorded in the three conflict-affected provinces of Kasaï. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women victims of sexual and gender-based violence become completely marginalized. Moreover, since the beginning of the conflict, many men have died, which has affected women’s inheritance including access to farmland. In the Kasaï, as in many other parts of the country, when the husband or father dies, his family takes everything in the house, including often the house itself. In these cases, women and young girls are left with no resources on which to live.

Similar to the Kasaï, food insecurity has been on the rise in Tanganyika due to a lack of access to food, suspended agricultural activities and insufficient food reserves and income. The previous harvest has either been looted or burnt.

Moreover, since December 2016, fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) outbreaks have severely affected maize production. This adds to other plant diseases such as banana wilt and the cassava brown streak and mosaic. In various parts of the country, the humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by cholera and measles outbreaks.

While a significant amount of the national budget will be allocated to organizing the next political elections, the remaining human and financial resources will not allow to meet the needs of the population living in the conflict affected provinces.

In line with the existing national food security programme, and together with other United Nation agencies (in particular the World Food Programme [WFP] and the United Nations Children’s Fund) and partners, through food security and nutrition interventions, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) focuses on building resilience by helping people recover from and prevent conflict, in a way that reduces social inequalities and builds social cohesion. As over 75 percent of rural families rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, the provision of inputs, the availability of which has been affected by the conflict, is critically needed in order to resume agricultural activities and restore livelihoods.

In a context of chronic poverty, lacking livelihood opportunities, youth suffer from an increasing sense of desperation and become involved in uncivil acts. Whenever there are windows of opportunities for peace, FAO will work towards enhancing resilient rural livelihoods targeting youth as a robust basis for peaceful societies.

As the security situation remains unpredictable, FAO’s Response Plan has been designed with a flexible operational framework to adjust to the context. Two main scenarios for the next 6 to 12 months have been identified and will guide project management.