DRC: UN and partners need $832 million in 2014
Representatives from the Government, the UN and wider humanitarian community gathered in Kinshasa this week launch a US$832 million humanitarian plan for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – one of the world’s longest running humanitarian crises.
For the next 12 months, the aid community aims, among other things, to address malnutrition and its related consequences; to improve access to water and hygiene in an effort to mitigate the onset of water-borne diseases such as cholera, and; to improve education and access to basic services.
The figure that aid groups need to accomplish this - $832 million – is $60 million less than the amount they sought in 2013.
“The drop in our 2014 financial estimates doesn’t mean there are less needs on the ground,” said Moustapha Soumaré, the Humanitarian Coordinator for DRC. “We must be aware that humanitarian needs will remain important in DRC in 2014.”
Major focus on food, water and health
Experts estimate that about 6.7 million people will not have enough to eat in 2014. They have called for $256 million to provide basic food aid and agricultural assistance.
The 2014 plan also emphasizes the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene projects. More than 27,000 cases of cholera were reported in the DRC last year, a disease that is driven by inadequate access to clean water and basic sanitation. There were also regular and deadly outbreaks of measles and malaria, and sporadic reports of Ebola, a highly contagious viral disease.
“The 2014 Plan shows how great the challenges here are,” Fabienne Chassagneux, who is the head of the International NGO Mine Action Group in the DRC and who represented NGOs at the launch event.
Five year high for number of people displaced
Of course, humanitarian concerns go beyond food, water and health care. In 2013 the country’s protracted and brutal conflict pushed the number of internally displaced people above 3 million – the highest level since 2009. Education and child protection specialists continue to denounce the use of schools as shelters for displaced communities, a practice that prevents thousands of children from attending classes.
However 2013 was also a year when donors contributed some $730 million to the DRC’s humanitarian appeal –80 per cent of the $892 million requested. That money allowed, among other things for aid groups in the eastern province of Katanga to fight off a cholera outbreak.
It meant that the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners to deliver over 90,000 tons of food to 2 million people.
It also meant that 15 million children received anti-measles vaccines.
Katanga: a growing region of concern
While North and South Kivu have historically been at the centre of the DRC’s humanitarian crisis and international attention, 2014 has begun with increasing concern over the southern province of Katanga.
Since March 2011, the number of people displaced in Katanga has grown eight-fold: from 51,000 to more than 400,000. Its northern territories of Mano, Mitwaba and Pweto see regular, violent attacks against civilians and are sadly known now as the ‘triangle of death’.
This insecurity is also affecting aid operations as aid often has to transit through Zambia to reach those areas. In 2013 there were also almost 14,000 cholera recorded; more than half of the total caseload in the country.