Mid-Year Review of the Humanitarian Action Plan for the Democratic Republic of Congo 2007
Despite successful elections and the surrender of several armed groups, an alarming number of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) still require life-saving assistance and support to become self-sufficient. Armed conflict is far from over in parts of the country and the current ominous crisis in the provinces of North and South Kivu gives cause for serious concern, such that humanitarian actors have twice revised emergency contingency plans since the beginning of 2007 to meet the needs of increasing numbers of displaced civilians. While difficult access and insecurity remain the two main challenges for humanitarian actors, lack of Government capacity and motivation and limited availability of baseline data seriously impede provision of adequate assistance. While armed violence is narrowing largely to events in the Kivu Provinces, the type of assistance needed is essentially unchanged but greater demands are being placed on rapid emergency response.
The year has seen large-scale returns, but also new displacements. Since the beginning of 2007, more than 150,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu alone, the highest rate of displacement in over three years. Conversely, in the province of Katanga and the district of Ituri (Oriental Province) the surrender and disarmament of several militia groups has improved security considerably and allowed the return of an estimated 611,000 internally displaced persons since mid-2006. The first six months of 2007 also witnessed the voluntary return of some 21,000 Congolese refugees, mainly from Tanzania, the Republic of Congo, and Zambia to the provinces of South Kivu, Katanga and Equateur. A new repatriation axis was opened from Zambia to the DRC in April 2007: this constitutes the first time in years that refugee return is being facilitated to Katanga. Returnees face abject poverty and the absence of public services; thus reintegration remains a great challenge. At the same time, some 9,100 Angolan, Rwandan and Sudanese refugees in DRC were repatriated between January and May 2007.
Attention has recently been drawn to protracted acute humanitarian needs in the western provinces, and the needs of victims of natural disasters. Although spared from armed conflict, several evaluation missions have revealed critical rates of malnutrition and extreme vulnerabilities in the Kasaï, Oriental, Bandundu and Equateur Provinces. Moreover, towards the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007, the DRC experienced its worst floods in ten years, which affected approximately 200,000 people and destroyed crops on a massive scale in Equateur, Katanga, and Oriental Provinces. To some in the humanitarian community, this served as a warning of the potential effects of climate change and the need to increase capacity to respond to victims of natural disasters. As a further indication of the scope of emergency needs, the inter-agency Rapid Response Mechanism assisted roughly 488,000 people in the first four months of the year throughout the country with various forms of assistance, and another 500,000 victims of cholera were assisted by water and sanitation activities during the first half of 2007, primarily in the Kivus.
Cluster coordination groups report both encouraging achievements and important challenges. In 2005-2006, mortality rates related to epidemics were generally reduced due to a more adequate and timely response, and vaccination coverage was increased. The water and sanitation cluster reported that, on average, access to potable water in the eastern provinces has increased by 6% since the beginning of the year. In several areas, such as Ituri and South Kivu, the concerted effort of a number of non-governmental organisations has seen global and severe malnutrition rates significantly reduced. Nonetheless, recent surveys in North Kivu and western provinces have revealed alarming rates of malnutrition which need immediate attention. Protection cluster members also established the first comprehensive protection monitoring project in North Kivu. Priorities are still focused on emergency response particularly in North and South Kivu, the protection of civilians, return and reintegration, and increasing humanitarian access to vulnerable populations. Two new priorities have been added for the remainder of 2007: more attention needs to be given to acute protracted humanitarian crises across all provinces, and determined efforts need to be made to produce improved humanitarian analysis and baseline data for all clusters.
As of 10 July, the DRC 2007 Humanitarian Action Plan had received $254,905,538 from governmental and private donors (much channelled through the Pooled Fund) and the CERF under-funded window. This amount represents 37.1% of the total 2007 HAP funding requirements.
The Rapid Response Mechanism is jointly managed by UNICEF and OCHA with a network of NGO implementing partners.