DR Congo

FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 1-2/00 - Congo, Democratic Republic of the

The food supply situation remains tight in most parts of the country as a result of the persistent civil war. In particular, severe food shortages and malnutrition are reported among the large numbers of the displaced population in northeastern Katanga, South Kivu and Ituri area of Upper Congo. In the latter, reports indicate that a serious humanitarian crisis is developing. A UN assessment mission to Djugu area of Ituri, estimated last October that over 100 000 people had been displaced and about 5 000-7 000 people killed. In another measure of the seriousness of the situation in the area, a recent nutritional survey by MSF showed 11.6 percent global malnutrition and 9.1 percent severe to acute malnutrition. In addition to people who have died as a direct result of the conflict, there are the untold numbers that have died of illnesses or epidemics attendant upon living under marginal socio-economic circumstances or in the bush, without adequate access to drinking water or medical care.

Among the population most affected by the crisis, are also those in urban areas, in particular in the city of Kinshasa (about 6 million people). The division of the country in two since the start of the conflict has virtually halted all formal internal trade, while population displacements have seriously disrupted agricultural activities in surrounding rural areas. Recent estimates indicate that about 10 percent of the population in Kinshasa is severely affected by the decline in purchasing power and suffer acute malnutrition, against 6 percent in 1998.

Overall, it is estimated that more than 10 million people in the country are living in conditions of food insecurity, including 1 million internally displaced persons. The most affected population remain inaccessible to humanitarian assistance due to insecurity and cut-off of roads. While WFP has recently created a fourth corridor to access displaced people in Northeastern Katanga and South Kivu, food aid pledges for the emergency operation remain well below requirements. There is an urgent need of additional contributions.