The Democratic Republic of Congo

Support to refugees, combatting sexual violence and preservation of the rainforest are all measures to which Norway contributes in one of the world’s most conflict-ridden countries.

Facts about The Democratic Republic of Congo

Population
The flag for The Democratic Republic of Congo
Millions
Life expectancy
The flag for The Democratic Republic of Congo
Years
GNI pr capita
The flag for The Democratic Republic of Congo
USD
Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
The flag for The Democratic Republic of Congo
%
HDI
The flag for The Democratic Republic of Congo
Ranking
Source:

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been subject to anarchy for many years. Government forces are in conflict with groups of armed rebels, and the humanitarian situation is precarious.

Economy

DRC can point to good economic results in recent years. Economic growth has been high (8 per cent in 2014), accompanied by low inflation (1.4 per cent in 2014). The currency has been stable.

The potential for economic growth is vast. DRC possesses large areas with the potential for agriculture, and the country has deposits of oil, diamonds, copper, cobalt and coltan.

Little of this economic growth has reached the population, particularly in rural areas. DRC is one of the world’s least developed countries, occupying the penultimate place on the UN Human Development Index (HDI).

Corruption

Corruption is a key obstacle to effective service delivery. It also impacts on the ability to attract investment for development activities.

DRC is ranked almost at the bottom of the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, as number 184 of 189 countries.

Nevertheless, DRC is placed among the ten countries that have demonstrated the greatest progress in implementing relevant reforms in recent years.

Humanitarian crisis

DRC is affected by one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. The UN estimates that roughly seven million people need humanitarian assistance.

Conflict and armed violence are a principle reason for the country’s considerable humanitarian needs. Fighting continuously results in new waves of refugees.

Internal population movements lead to pressure on food security, sanitary conditions, and health and education services.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), DRC has 1.5 million internally displaced persons. DRC also hosts 200 000 refugees from Rwanda, the Central African Republic and Burundi.

Health

The country was affected by an internal Ebola outbreak in Equateur province in 2014, to which the authorities responded quickly, and the country was declared Ebola-free in November the same year.

47 per cent of the population has no access to safe drinking water.

More than three million children are malnourished or undernourished. The lack of clean water, sanitary conditions and vaccinations are contributory factors to regular epidemics. Epidemics of measles and cholera are widespread, and mortality is high.

The healthcare system has no capacity to deal with these outbreaks. A humanitarian presence is lacking in many regions where outbreaks occur.

Development cooperation

Norwegian support to DRC includes interventions with regard to forest and climate change, humanitarian aid, peace and reconciliation, and women’s rights.

In 2014, total Norwegian support amounted to NOK 226.5 million, and has remained at approximately the same level for the last five years.

Around three-quarters of the support is disbursed through Norwegian NGOs. Multilateral organizations such as the UN and the World Bank constitute another important channel.

Climate and forest

The rainforest in the Congo Basin is the second largest in the world, covering 1.86 million square kilometres. When the drier forest ecoregion is included, the total area of forest is 2.3 million square kilometres. More than 60 per cent of this forest lies in DRC.

Annual net deforestation in DRC amounts to 0.22 per cent. Small-scale slash-and-burn agriculture is the main driver behind deforestation, followed by production of charcoal around the major cities.

Norway has pledged up to NOK 400 million per year for forest preservation in the Congo Basin in the period 2016-2020. The support is channelled through the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI). CAFI supports implementation of reforms for preservation of the rainforest, and will also direct its efforts towards the drivers of deforestation in Central Africa. Other donors who contribute to the CAFI cooperation are the EU, France, Germany and the UK.

Since 2010, Norway has given significant political and financial support to rainforest preservation in DRC. The support is channelled through the UN-REDD programme, the African Development Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Congo Basin Forest Fund and civil society.

In 2012, DRC adopted a national rainforest strategy (REDD). It includes agriculture, energy, sustainable logging, demography, governance, land rights issues and land-use planning.

Support to the forestry sector is primarily routed through regional funds of the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the UN and Norwegian NGOs (WWF and Rainforest Foundation Norway).

The Norwegian government’s climate and forest initiative was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007. Norway’s efforts are directed at achieving some key objectives included in a new global climate agreement. These include greenhouse gas emissions from logging and deforestation in developing countries. A further goal is to achieve a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the forestry sector in developing countries as quickly as possible.

Humanitarian assistance

Humanitarian support is channelled through the joint UN humanitarian fund and NGOs.

The fund is an important contributor to the Rapid Response to Population Movements (RRMP). An evaluation report describes RRMP as being skilled at providing rapid, relevant response to humanitarian crises.

Health and education

The civil society actors are important for service delivery in the areas of health and education.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has been active in North and South Kivu provinces since 2001. NRC provides support to internally displaced persons, refugees and local communities that house refugees, and distribute food and emergency supplies. Conditions with regard to water, sanitation and hygiene have been improved, houses and schools have been built, and information and legal advice have also been provided.

More than 3 000 children were enrolled in NRC’s education programme in 2013. Almost 1 200 children had transferred to state schools in the 2012/2013 year.

The JOIN Good Forces healthcare programme treated more than 2 000 women and 1 000 children in rural areas in 2013.

Contribution to peace and reconciliation

A framework for peace, security and cooperation commits DRC and the region to national reforms. The countries in the region have vowed to respect each other’s territorial boundaries, and have committed themselves not to support armed groups. They will also strengthen regional cooperation.

Norway supports the work of the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region. The Special Envoy’s office has a particular role in following up the implementation of the regional framework and  received a contribution of NOK 6.6 million in 2015. The Special Envoy also lends her support to economic cooperation and private sector development.

A primary cause of the conflict in DRC stems from armed groups. The government army controls large parts of the mineral trade in eastern Congo, and illegal trade in conflict minerals must be prosecuted in order to address the cause. Norway is part of a working group on illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Great Lakes region, and the EU, UN and USA are also participants in this group.

Women, gender equality and sexual violence

Women in DRC are poorly represented in political parties, parliament and government. Women also have weak representation in public administration, especially at management level.

The Constitution pays lip service to gender equality. However, the legal framework lags far behind.

Sexual violence

Violence against women and rape are a major problem throughout the country. In the eastern provinces this is especially linked to the conflict scenario with the army, police and armed groups as the main offenders.

In the past two years Norway has spent NOK 110 million on combatting sexual violence in DRC. This investment is a response to the UN Security Council resolution on sexual violence in conflict zones. Both Norwegian and international organizations have received funding.

Norway has supported the UN humanitarian country-based pooled funds, which have put in place a national strategy to combat sexual violence.
The establishment of Kyeshero Hospital is a significant result of the Norwegian investment. The Heal Africa Hospital has also acquired a new ward. Both offer health services and support to rape victims.

Norway cooperates with Solidarité Féminine pour la Paix et le Développement Intégral (SOFEPADI), a Congolese women’s organization. The cooperation operates through the Norwegian Embassy in Luanda, the capital city.

The support to SOFEPADI encompasses a broad programme of interventions against sexual violence in the eastern Ituri province. The project supports the work of Karibuni Wamam, a medical centre in Bunia.

The centre promotes the health of women and families, and supports victims of sexual violence. The centre has played a unique role in the region by offering a full range of services including medical support, psychosocial follow-up and legal assistance.

The centre has also worked actively to promote women’s rights and women’s health, as well as increasing awareness with regard to sexual violence.

Another important contribution in the struggle against sexual violence is the work of the American Bar Association (ABA). Survivors have gained access to the legal system in the areas in which they live through the use of mobile gender courts. Judges, legal personnel and law students have received training in cases involving sexual violence.

ABA has supported the establishment of a legal database of abuse cases, and also carries out awareness-raising work to prevent abuse.

Gender equality

The Norwegian Embassy in Luanda supports women’s political participation through the women’s organization Fonds pour les Femmes Congolaises (FFC).
FFC mobilizes women to participate in national, regional and local elections.

In 2014, the organization worked with 25 local women’s organizations throughout the country. This increased competence with regard to women and gender equality issues, governance and political participation.

FFC has also worked to enhance women’s knowledge about electoral processes and to strengthen the communication and leadership qualities of women candidates. It has helped to establish a women’s network for the exchange of knowledge and experience across the country.

FCC and SOFEPADI together received NOK 2.5 million in 2014.

Voluntary organizations

Norad is supporting DRC through Norwegian voluntary organizations to the tune of NOK 53 million in 2015. This represents a reduction from NOK 88 million in 2014.

The main actors are Rainforest Foundation Norway, JOIN good forces, Caritas, CARE Norway, DIGNI, the Norwegian Refugee Council and IIASA.

Norwegian Church Aid, the Pentecostal Foreign Mission of Norway, the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders also receive support.

The main emphasis of the support is on interventions aimed at reinforcing women’s rights and combatting sexual violence, mother and child health, and education. In addition, there is a significant commitment targeting climate change and forest.

Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 26.11.2015