Democratic Republic of Congo
Rich in natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has enormous economic and social potential. Nevertheless, little has been done to develop this potential for the benefit of the Congolese people, and so extreme poverty persists throughout the country despite ongoing macroeconomic growth. According to the United Nations Development Programme’s 2014 Human Development Index, the DRC ranked 186 out of 187 countries, and approximately 87.7 percent of the Congolese were living on less than US$1.25 per day.
The population of the DRC includes a significant number of children and youth: 47 percent of the people of the DRC are younger than 15 years old. This is a particularly vulnerable segment of the population given the high level of poverty and the lack of basic health care. In 2001 the DRC ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Some progress has been noted, particularly with the adoption of the Code de protection de l’enfant, which prohibits the drafting and hiring of children younger than 18 years of age by the armed forces, armed groups and the police. Despite a commitment of the Government of the DRC to prevent child recruitment and sexual violence, the country has limited capacity to ensure the security of its citizens and provide them with health, education, protection, and potable water and sanitation services. Although there has been some progress with respect to education and health, most of the Millennium Development Goals have not been reached in the DRC. The mortality rate for children younger than five years old (104 individuals per 1,000 live births in 2011) and the maternal mortality rate (846 per 100,000 live births in 2013) remain among the highest in the world. Health care reform is underway to decentralize the administrative structures and improve people’s access to basic services.
The situation in the eastern part of the DRC remains a matter of concern, where several armed groups are running rampant. People continue to be displaced and sexual violence against women and girls remains a problem. As of March 31, 2014, there were more than 2,635,000 internally displaced persons in the DRC.
In 2006, after a decade of war and 32 years of dictatorship that demolished its institutions, the DRC held its first democratic presidential elections. The next elections were held in 2011. However, the lack of credibility and transparency of then elections was criticized by the international community and the results were widely disputed. According to the constitution, elections must be held in 2016.
In 2014 the DRC was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada's international development assitance.
Canada’s international development programming in the DRC is harmonized with the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy developed by the Government of the DRC. Capacity building of public institutions is central to Canada's strategy to help establish a more democratic, prosperous, and equitable state—one that will be able to reduce poverty sustainably and secure the future of its children and youth. Canada also provides considerable humanitarian assistance to communities affected by conflict.
Canada is working to strengthen the DRC’s health system, focusing on the most urgent needs of poor communities—particularly mothers, children and youth. Programs are designed to give these groups better access to quality primary health care. They are also aimed at building the management skills of decision makers in the health sector to make the system more effective.
Canada is also seeking to build the capacities of government officials, local authorities and civil society to help the tens of thousands of women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence in the eastern provinces of the DRC and to help combat such crimes, particularly by confronting the impunity of the perpetrators.
Moreover, the Canadian program in the DRC seeks new ways of fighting against the exploitation and abuse of children, and prevent these from happening.
The DRC adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages) as well as the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which is an international dialogue that aims to support development in fragile and conflict-affected states particularly by focusing on peacebuilding and state-building goals, including promoting inclusive policies and fighting injustice.
Donor countries are showing a clear willingness to harmonize their activities with those of the DRC. The Government of the DRC has developed an aid-coordination framework, but its implementation has been slow because of a lack of concrete actions.
In the health care sector, in the interest of coordinating Canadian assistance with that of other donors, and as requested by the Government of the DRC, Canada mainly focuses its efforts in Kinshasa province.
Maternal, newborn and child health (Kinshasa province)
- helped increase the number of pregnant mothers who receive prenatal medical care from 31.8 percent to 43 percent in the Funa health district and from 38 percent to 39 percent in the Nsele district (Kinshasa);
- helped train 181 health care workers on hospital hygiene and sanitation;
- increased the rate of referrals to general-referral hospitals from 0.42 percent to 1.9 percent in the Funa district, and 4.21 percent to 10 percent in the Nsele district; and
- helped the Centrale d'achat et de distribution des médicaments essentiels de Kinshasa expand its distribution network from 59 pharmacies and health centres in 2011 to 96 pharmacies and health centres in 2013
Equality between women and men
- provided training on equality between women and men to 97 members of core teams in supported health zones in Kinshasa province;
- contributed to mobilizing and empowering women in supported health zones, resulting in the number of women chairing community development committees to rise significantly from 0 percent to 28 percent; and
- helped provide about 774 survivors of sexual violence, mainly women and girls, with access to holistic services, including reception, listening and psychosocial support, as well as health care, legal support services and support for socio-economic reintegration.
Governance and promotion of democracy
- contributed to strengthening the capacities of government officials, local authorities and civil society to promote the rule of law and prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence offences; and
- supported several mobile courts in northern and southern Kivu, where 67 cases were heard in 2014 that resulted in the conviction of several high-ranking members of the Congolese armed forces.
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