High levels of poverty and malnutrition persist in the Republic of the Congo (RoC) despite economic growth in recent years. According to UN World Food Program (WFP), almost 50 percent of the population lives under the national poverty line, and over 20 percent of children younger than 5 years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition.
RoC remains dependent on food imports at high cost, as domestic agricultural production covers less than a third of the country’s food needs, according to WFP. Resultant high prices limit the ability of poorer households to access nutritious foods from the market.
Since April 2016, conflict in Pool Department has prompted significant population displacement and hindered market access, cutting off households from their livelihoods. According to the UN, insecurity and violence have displaced approximately 90,500 people in Pool and neighboring Bouenza Department in the south of the country. In total, roughly 160,000 people in Pool are in need of humanitarian assistance—over half the department’s population.
In December 2017, WFP reported that one in three households among both internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in Pool faced acute food insecurity, and chronic malnutrition in children younger than 5 years of age had exceeded 25 percent. Between May and December, global acute malnutrition (GAM) levels among IDPs younger than 5 years of age in Pool and Bouenza declined from 17.3 percent to 5.8 percent primarily due to sustained humanitarian assistance, according to various government, UN and NGO sources. Despite improvements, WFP warns that nearly 13 percent of children remain at risk of becoming malnourished in the absence of nutrition interventions.
With support from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP), WFP provides IDPs and host communities in Pool and Bouenza with U.S. in-kind food assistance. In response to the concerning levels of GAM in southern RoC, FFP also supports WFP to deliver specialized nutrition products to children and their mothers in order to treat and prevent acute malnutrition.
- Through WFP distributions of U.S.-grown in-kind food assistance, FFP also continues to assist refugees from the Central African Republic seeking shelter in RoC.