Canadian international assistance in the 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. The current state of the world’s economy, the decline in demand and prices for minerals, combined with political instability in the country, has had negative repercussions on the economy and democratic space.

According to the United Nations Development Program’s 2016 Human Development Index, the DRC ranked 176 out of 188 countries, and approximately 87.7% of the Congolese were living on less than US$1.90 per day.

The population of the DRC includes a significant number of children and youth: 28% 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.

Protecting children from violence

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.

The mortality rate for children younger than five years old (98 individuals per 1,000 live births in 2016) and the maternal mortality rate (693 per 100,000 live births in 2016) 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.

Threats from armed groups

The security situation in the DRC remains a matter of concern with several armed groups active in different regions of the country. People continue to be displaced and sexual violence against women and girls remains a problem. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of May 2017, there were more than 3,700,000 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 the elections was criticized by the international community and the results were widely disputed. According to the constitution, elections were to be held in 2016, but they have been delayed until 2018.

Our international development assistance

Search the Project Browser to see what Canada is doing to support development in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Strengthening the capacity of public institutions is central to Canada's strategy to help establish a more democratic, prosperous, and equitable state. We also provide 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 supporting 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. This work is focused on the eastern provinces of the DRC to help combat such crimes by confronting the impunity of the perpetrators.

Canadian programming in the DRC seeks new ways of fighting against and preventing the exploitation and abuse of children, and supports civic education to promote pluralism and respect for human rights and democracy.

Progress on aid effectiveness

The DRC adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness as well as the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States. This is an international dialogue that aims to support development in fragile and conflict-affected states particularly. It does this by focusing on peacebuilding and state-building goals, including promoting inclusive policies and fighting injustice.

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.

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