Fighting is significantly worsening the nutrition crisis in DR Congo

Published: Oct 3, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
Demonstrations culinaires dans la zone de santé de Kimbi Lulenge
© Foto: Mutabesha Jean

As conflict, insecurity, socio-economic crises, and extreme weather events continue to deteriorate, they further exacerbate child nutrition, and humanitarian actors need to strengthen the way they work. We are responding to urgent nutritional needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) thanks to DRC humanitarian fund (OCHA).

Right now, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. More than five million people are living in displacement, including three million children. Most of these displaced people live in local communities that are barely able to support themselves—let alone additional guests. 27 million people—about a quarter of the country's population—are facing acute food insecurity, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The precarious nutritional situation in the eastern DRC results from a combination of factors. For example, repeated clashes in the Kimbi-Lulenge health zone have caused acute food insecurity. Violence, combined with the poor quality of food, the prevalence of childhood diseases (malaria and diarrhoea), poor hygiene, restricted access to drinking water, and the negative effects of the security situation have led to massive population movements to more secure areas.

Clashes between armed groups force people to flee

“I fled my village because of the war between armed groups. I left my field and all my belongings at home. Now, I find myself in a family that has taken me and my six children in without any assistance,” says Sangani Katema, a 34-year-old mother of six from South Kivu, one of the provinces hardest hit by the violence.

‘’When I came to this village of Lekesha, I tried to find a small field to cultivate to feed my children, but until now I have nothing, and my life is becoming more and more difficult because I am unable to take care of my children alone,’’ says Sangani.

In June 2021, we began working in the Kimbi-Lulenge health zone in response to the emergency food security needs of 2,493 people. Our work was made possible by funding from DRC Humanitarian Fund (OCHA). The isolation of the area and the growing insecurity mean that displaced populations continue to put pressure on host communities. Now, the latter are feeling the strain and need emergency food assistance emergency food to help alleviate the burden of supporting the internally displaced people.

Simple porridge can improve a child’s nutrition

We have been teaching the preparation of a nutritious porridge to help mothers to prepare this dish for their families and, in so doing, help reduce the nutritional problems that persist in this part of the health zone.

‘’I was selected among the beneficiaries for this project, and this is how I came to participate in the cooking demonstration activities; I learned how to make porridge, and I will make this for my family and in my community so that my children are healthy,’’ says Sangani.

Clashes between indigenous and foreign armed groups are ongoing, causing the regular and massive displacements of the population to neighbouring villages, where precarious safety is found. This situation of tension and insecurity comes on top of the severe consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, combined with the isolation of this area, has left the population in extreme poverty and with limited access to basic foodstuffs due to the isolation of this area.

The war in Ukraine has not spared this area; it has caused the soaring of fuel and food, further compounding the problems faced in this part of the DRC.

Autor: Zawadi Izabayo

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