KINSHASA, 7 April 2021 – Two United Nations agencies have wanted that over 27 million of the 89 million inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) are facing acute hunger.
Of the 27.3 million facing acute hunger, nearly 7 million people are at the emergency level.
The number is the highest for any single country worldwide, the World Food Program (AFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Tuesday.
Both agencies described the scale of the crisis as staggering, with at least 20 percent of households facing extreme food consumption gaps, resulting in very high levels of acute malnutrition and excess deaths.
It is the first time that WFP and FAO have been “able to analyze the vast majority of the population [coming] closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the DRC,” Peter Musoko, AFP’s representative in DR Congo.
“Conflict remains a key cause of hunger with large swathes of the conflict-affected eastern provinces of Ituri, North and South Kivu, and Tanganyika, as well as the central region of the Kasais, the scene of recent conflict, the worst hit,” said Aristide Ongone Obame, the FAO’s representative in DR Congo.
Dozens of rebel groups carry out frequent deadly attacks across huge parts of DR Congo, often preying on farmers or preventing farmers from attending to their farms.
What was already a bad situation has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns imposed by the virus.
The WFP and FAO agree that without violent conflicts, the chances are high that DR Congo, one of Africa’s largest and more fertile countries, would have been able to grow enough food to feed its entire population as well as to export a surplus.
Unfortunately, endless cycles of violent conflict and hunger have persisted for the past 25 years.
Over five million people in DR Congo have fled their homes and completely lost their means of livelihood, with no fewer than five million children reported as acutely malnourished.
The UN agencies have appealed for urgent additional funding to begin tackling the crisis.
WFP has said it is providing food to 8.7 million people in DR Congo while FAO says it aims to assist 1.1 million people in areas of high acute food insecurity with assistance to farm and raise livestock.
DR Congo is ranked 179 of 189 countries on the 2019 Human Development Index.