News / Africa

Millions Going Hungry in Democratic Republic of Congo

A child (r) carries food stuff on her head that she and other family children try to sell  by walking from market area to market area in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 28, 2014.
A child (r) carries food stuff on her head that she and other family children try to sell by walking from market area to market area in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 28, 2014.
Lisa Schlein
A new report by the World Food Program finds millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are going hungry, and malnutrition rates are climbing due to a decline in foreign aid and ongoing conflict.

On paper, the DRC appears to be doing well. Since 2002, the country’s economy has grown on average six percent a year. This year, economic growth is expected to top nine percent.

Unfortunately, U.N. aid agencies say that little of that prosperity is trickling down to the population. The World Food Program says the government’s failure to invest in areas such as education, health care, sanitation, infrastructure and agriculture is undermining the country’s ability to feed itself.  

Acute food shortage

WFP spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs said this low level of government spending, combined with a decline in foreign aid and protracted conflict in the east is creating an alarming situation for the nearly 10 percent of the population facing an acute shortage of food.

“The families have poor diet… They have a high vulnerability to diseases and also to natural disasters because they are poor, because they have no balanced diet," said Byrs. "They do not eat properly and so their body is more vulnerable to diseases. Of course because of diseases, because of people who are not properly fed, it causes major disruption to crops, of course livestock, and altogether infrastructure.”  

WFP reports that a staggering 95 percent of the people in the DRC earn less than $2 a day. It says nine percent of children under age five are acutely malnourished, and 43 percent suffer from chronic malnutrition, which is a critical state.

Myriad issues

The report finds rural areas suffer most from poverty, lack of food and high prevalence of malnutrition. It says internally displaced people and refugees from the Central African Republic are particularly vulnerable to food shortages -- as are local communities that host them.

WFP spokeswoman Byrs warned that her agency is very low on funding. She said it needs $21 million to carry out its humanitarian operations through October. Byrs warned that WFP will be forced to cut aid if it does not receive the money.

“We targeted two million people in 2014. Unfortunately, we will assist only 1.6 million if we do not get adequate funding from donors," she said. "We will target life-saving activities in acutely food insecure, and in particular children. There are two million children suffering from malnutrition, and we will focus on the life-saving program of WFP to ensure that those children get life-saving assistance.”  

Because of the funding crisis, WFP is planning to reduce the geographical coverage of its work. Byrs said assistance programs will be largely cut in areas of no conflict. She said assistance programs will be maintained in the war zones, and where IDPs and refugees continue to reside.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Rae from: USA
June 04, 2014 1:10 PM
And yet, the Congolese government continues to prevent my adopted daughter, who was adopted in a state of critical malnutrition and with severe malaria, from leaving the country with her family. They have so much work to do among their people, yet they are preventing the 200 kids who DO have families who want to care for them from being with them.

by: Dustin from: Denver, CO
June 03, 2014 5:01 PM
Can you update the link to the report from the world food program? I was not able to find it on their website.

by: Mulumba from: Tamba
June 03, 2014 4:34 PM
DRC needs to get it on with agriculture and infrastructure to bring food to people. Also a culture of work needs to be revived, Mobutu got some results by getting parliament members to grow crops in their districts and having people work the land and cleanup on Saturdays...such ideas can only be good...provided a string leader is advocating for them...

by: david hearne from: usa
June 03, 2014 2:02 PM
Every time I see photos of this tragedy, I see women with 8 or 9 children. If they can't afford to fee their children, why do they keep having so many of them?
In Response

by: emily from: canada
June 09, 2014 12:29 AM
the rate at which armed forces and other military groups rape women are exceedingly high...many are left pregnant and are unable to receive the health care necessary to get abortions or ensure the children are healthy

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs