The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the world’s biggest hunger emergency, with 27 million people - some 26 percent of its population - acutely food insecure.
A November 2021 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis cited conflict and endemic poverty as the main drivers. Climate shocks, pest infestations, Ebola virus disease and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 were other significant contributing factors during the reporting period, depressing food production and deepening poverty and food insecurity.
The war-ravaged provinces of North Kivu and Ituri in the east, and the central Kasai region, were hardest hit.
WFP and its partners continued to provide largescale assistance, reaching a record 6.3 million people in the course of the year.
WFP assisted 4.5 million people with in-kind food, 1.4 million with cash and some 1.8 million children, pregnant and lactating women and girls (PLW/G) with specialized nutritious foods.
Building on the recommendations of an evaluation of WFP's 2018-20 interim country strategic plan (ICSP), its 2021-24 country strategic plan (CSP) incorporated shifts in approach to the execution of the saving-lives, changing-lives dual mandate, not least a stronger emphasis on partnerships to foster development and peace.
Although DRC's dire food security situation during the year mainly necessitated emergency relief, WFP continued working to link crisis response activities to early recovery and resilience-building interventions. Partnering with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), it scaled up joint programmes in the latter areas. Such interventions, mostly in what were once conflict zones, provided integrated support to vulnerable communities, enabling them to grow their own food and increase earnings, and in the process helping to boost social cohesion.
Violence in eastern DRC, mainly involving non-state armed groups and the national army, intensified in 2021, despite vigorous efforts - not least by foreign forces deployed for the purpose - to contain and reverse it: appallingly vicious attacks on innocents in camps for the internally displaced, with scores murdered and injured; suicide bombings; the shooting and kidnapping of aid workers; and attacks on WFP food convoys.
In typical fashion, WFP responded promptly to emergencies. For example, it provided food assistance to 146,000 people in the ten days after the 22 May eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano near the eastern city of Goma.
WFP procured 24,850 mt of food in-country for its operations, including from smallholder farmers, buying from regions with production surpluses and transporting the commodities to food-deficit areas, while boosting smallholder awareness of its quality requirements.
Resilience-building projects helped smallholders improve the quantity and quality of their yields, and reduce post-harvest losses.
In 2021, in addition to COVID-19, DRC suffered significant outbreaks of measles, cholera and the highly contagious Ebola virus. WFP assistance to Ebola victims and survivors, and to their families and "contacts", was key to the vital containment challenge of limiting population movements in affected areas.
As the UN's humanitarian logistics lead, WFP provided operational support to Ebola medical response teams, enabling swift assistance in remote areas. Flights by the WFP-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service were crucial in that respect.
WFP’s home-grown school feeding programme reached 226,000 children. It purchased locally for the purpose 1,000 mt of commodities in the 2020-21 academic year, empowering smallholder farmers.
After schools were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, pupils were provided with WFP take-home rations.
WFP operations contributed to the eventual attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2's target of boosting access to food.
While there are no national data illustrating progress towards the SDGs, WFP’s in-kind and cash assistance gave millions of vulnerable Congolese access to food.
Partnering with the Government and other humanitarian actors, WFP conducted Emergency Food Security Assessments in 100 territories and provided technical support to improve data collection on food availability.
WFP also contributed to SDG Target 2.2 - ending malnutrition - by assisting 1.8 million children and PLW/Gs in 1,200 health centres.
WFP supported the Government with a Fill the Nutrient Gap analysis, examining the availability and cost of a nutritious diet across the country. WFP’s nutrition interventions were implemented in accordance with national protocols and in collaboration with DRC’s National Nutrition Programme, UNICEF, and the Nutrition Cluster.