NewsDRC - From one crisis to another


The humanitarian needs that marked the last months of 2019 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued to disrupt the lives of millions of Congolese during the first half of 2020. From Djugu (Ituri) to Nyunzu (Tanganyika), from Mbandaka (Ecuador) to Uvira (South Kivu), humanitarian crises throughout the country are intertwined, perpetuating chronic suffering for some and, for the first time, plunging others into crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has further aggravated the situation, leading to an increase in the funds needed to meet humanitarian needs, from US$1.86 billion to $2.07 billion. Over halfway into the year, just 20 per cent of the humanitarian funding needed has been received. Without a substantial increase in funding, humanitarian organizations will be forced to make difficult operational choices that could leave some communities on the brink of survival.


A woman builds back her house
A woman build back her house after having spent weeks without shelter. In Libenge village, torrential rains in October and November 2019 caused the river to surge. It destroyed all the villages along its shore. ©OCHA/Alioune Ndiaye

Thousands of people under water


Torren tial rains in the eastern part of the country between January and May resulted in flooding that caused severe property damage across several provinces. In Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, Haut-Katanga and Lualaba, nearly 400,000 people were affected by the rising waters, and about 60,000 were forcibly displaced from their homes. Some 350 schools were destroyed, nearly 12,000 hectares of agricultural land were flooded, and close to 40 health structures were destroyed. In South Kivu, an additional 265,000 people were affected, including in Uvira, Fizi, Nundu, Lemera and the Ruzizi Plain. The Ruzizi Plain suffered heavy farming losses, as almost 75 per cent of its 15,000 hectares of crops were lost. In Maniema Province, the floods destroyed nearly 30,000 houses and abruptly ended the schooling of more than 7,000 students. Although flooding is commonplace, lack of urban planning is often cited as an aggravating factor. Very few provinces have a disaster management plan.


Floods drowned Kambo village
The floods drowned Kambo village, in Gbadolite, Equateur Province, destroying houses, schools and health centres. The population had to flee to the forest to escape the sudden rise of the Oubangui River. ©OCHA/Alioune Ndiaye

Ebola: From one epidemic to another

On 25 June, the Congolese Government announced the end of the Ebola epidemic in eastern DRC, the country’s longest and deadliest outbreak, in which more than 2,200 people died. The outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern, resulting in significant national and international human and financial resources to deal with it. The epidemic was the first to take place during a conflict. Security was a main challenge, and more than a dozen health professionals died due to armed violence.

Just as this painful chapter was closing, another one was beginning. On 1 June, a new Ebola epidemic appeared in Equateur Province, striking regions that had been affected two years ago.

Information leaflet detailing Ebola prevention
An information leaflet detailing Ebola prevention measures is being used during a sensitization session for prisoners at the Butembo jail in NOrth Kivu. ©UN/Martine Perret

The world’s worst measles epidemic

Since January 2019, more than 370,000 people have been affected by a measles epidemic. There have been 6,600 deaths, making it the worst measles epidemic in the world currently. During the first six months of 2020, nearly 60,000 cases, including 781 deaths, were recorded. The response is being hampered by, among other factors, access constraints, population movements and community resistance.

More than 18 million people have been vaccinated since January 2019. Recent statistics are showing a downward trend, despite pockets of concern in the Kasai region in the centre of the country.

Children and mothers wait for doctor's consultation
Children and their mothers wait for a doctor's consultation at the Mutshima health centre in the Ksai region. ©OCHA/Alioune Ndiaye

Food insecurity, a silent killer

With the combined effects of displacement, disease and widespread poverty, millions of Congolese suffer from food insecurity. At the beginning of the year, humanitarian organizations estimated the number of food-insecure people at 15.6 million. With the emergence of the coronavirus, this number has risen to 19.4 million, thereby increasing the amount of aid required to reach them.

Between January and May 2020, tens of thousands of hectares of land were flooded in the eastern part of the country, foreshadowing a catastrophic agricultural season in this area. Food aid accounts for the largest portion of the Humanitarian Response Plan.

At the Mutshima helath centre, a sensitization session
At the Mutshima health centre, children and their mothers take part in a sesitization session organized by the NGO Premiere Urgence Internationale. The session aims to highlight how a local and varied diet can benefit their health. ©OCHA/Alioune Ndiaye

Worrying underfunding

Six months after the launch of the Humanitarian Response Plan 2020, less than 20 per cent of the requested $2.07 billion in funding has been received. In the face of the current state of funding, the Humanitarian Coordinator has made use of the in-country Humanitarian Fund to support operations, including three recent allocations of $55 million for operations in 14 provinces. In 2018 and 2019, funding was below 50 per cent.


Women check on a water pump
Women check on a water pump that should shortly be in service in Pweto village. They won't have to walk several kilometres to find water anymore. Access to water is a challenge in several parts of Tanganyika Province. ©OCHA/Alioune Ndiaye
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