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RDC : The Congolese Silent Tsunami

D 30 août 2017     H 05:36     A     C 0 messages

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has enough land to feed at least 1 billion people - roughly the population of Africa - and is wealthy in minerals. But grinding poverty and years of conflict have left many of its people chronically hungry.

Hunger in the DRC has soared in the last year, leaving 7.7 million people in urgent need of food aid and pushing the country closer to famine than it has been in a decade, food security experts said. Much of the rise in hunger - 1.8 million new people were added to the list - stems from escalating violence in the Kasai and Tanganyika regions, which in Kasai alone has forced 1.4 million people to flee their homes in the past year. Congo now has 3.8 million people displaced within the country, in addition to a steady flow of refugees from neighbouring Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan. The displaced - many of them women - need seeds and farming tools to become self-sufficient, ease pressure on the communities hosting them, and reduce tensions.

More than 1.5 million people are now facing "emergency" hunger levels. "Emergency" means people are forced to sell possessions and skip or reduce their meals. It is one level below a classification of famine in the IPC’s internationally-recognised five stages of hunger.

Alexis Bonte, FAO’s interim representative in Congo. said, "It’s a humanitarian tsunami, but it’s a silent tsunami, that’s the problem." Bonte explained "It has been hidden by other crises.", referring to South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.

The crisis has worsened with the advance of fall armyworm, a crop-eating caterpillar that has spread to many parts of the country, including Kasai and Tanganyika, as well as by outbreaks of cholera and measles.

"I think the donors are really tired of funding the crisis in Congo," Bonte said, "We cannot hope to make change if we abandon the people. These people deserve to live in dignity. They have suffered enough," he said.

When local NGOs in Chikapa, a town in Kasai region, provided farmland for some 2,000 families who had fled their homes earlier this year, and FAO gave farming equipment, they were able to harvest vegetables to eat and sell within weeks. "Normally in a development project, it would take a year to do this. This was just a few weeks, because the ladies were desperate to do something ... to escape the trauma they had suffered and ... go back to dignity," Bonte said.

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