DRC remains at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index, only Niger has poorer HDI statistics. DRC also continues to be significantly off target to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Despite this, DRC has the potential to become an economic player and have a positive role in supporting peace and development, with vast mineral wealth and opportunities for generating hydropower. Decades of conflict and corruption have left DRC chronically unstable, lacking infrastructure and social services, and falling far short of its economic potential. Notwithstanding steady economic growth over the past decade, per capita GDP remains at just 43% of what it was in 1980 and around 60% of the population live on less than $1.25 per day. Seven out of 10 people in rural areas do not have access to safe drinking water. Almost 1 in 3 children under 5 are severely malnourished and only 63% of girls and boys aged 6-11 regularly attend primary school.
The state is unable to either provide security, or ensure protection for the whole population: violent conflict and instability continues in the east, where the largest UN mission in the world is attempting to provide some measure of civilian protection. Instability in DRC has already led to Africa’s first major inter-state war and continues to pose a threat to the region. The consequence of this wide-scale instability is that the country continues to face one of the most complex and chronic humanitarian crises in the world. There are an estimated 2.6m displaced people in DRC alone. Continued violence in 2013 threatened both national and regional peace, but saw progress with the defeat of the M23 rebels in November 2013 and gradual efforts to tackle other armed groups, paving the way for a renewed effort on stabilisation and conflict resolution.