DR Congo

Action against Hunger distributes seeds to displaced families in war-torn Congo

Action Against Hunger has distributed a package of corn, maize, bean, ground-nut and sorghum seeds to 12,500 families displaced by the War in the East of DR Congo.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, hundred thousands of families have fled the on-going civil war. In South-Kivu the fighting is intensifying between the RDC rebel troops, backed by Rwanda and the local Mai-Mai militias, backed by the Kinshasa Government. As a result, most of the villagers have fled to the neighboring hillsides, setting up temporary shelter in the remote fields. Almost all commercial activity has stopped and markets are only sporadically supplied.

The first planting season is right about to start. Most of the villagers have no access to seeds and the destruction which has been in effect for the last 20 months has left them with very few agricultural implements. But the only existing road south of Uvira has been cut off by militia troops. Trucks and cars have been restricted from passage, forcing the displaced population into complete isolation from the rest of the country.

Last week, Action Against Hunger decided to distribute the seeds anyway, and bypass the closed roads, by transporting the agro-packages via Lake Tanganika. They crossed over from Burundi. Local fishing boats were used, and the farm supplies dropped off of the various pickup points along the lake shoreline. The team considered this approach to be risky, but was left without choice, other than abandoning their commitment to the expectant families. The distribution to 5,200 families was completed successfully. They join the 7,300 families who had already received seeds by road in the northern part of Uvira District, in the Rusisi plain, bordering Burundi.

This coming planting season is the first of two seasons. It is called "the small season" and most of its output is used to produce seeds for the next "main season", whose crops provide the food basket for the year to come.

Action Against Hunger is today the only international organization providing assistance to these populations in the districts of Uvira and Fizi. A Nutrition Assistance project is caring for the most severely malnourished children and the program also aims at allowing the populations to secure their self-sufficiency.

This program, funded by USAID, is a good example of the integration of long term sustainability in an emergency situation.

Action Against Hunger is providing food security and nutritional programs in the government controlled areas of Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.

Contact: Anna Kar, (212) 967 7800 and email "anna@aah-usa.org"