Results around the world – Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo ranks 176th out of 188 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s 2016 Human Development Index. Of a total population of nearly 80 million, 77.1% live in extreme poverty. The under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality rate are among the highest in the world. One in 10 children dies before the age of five, and seven out of every 1,000 women die in childbirth.

Early marriages are common. According to a World Bank report on child marriage, 40% of adult women are married before the age of majority—11% of them before the age of 15. A significant proportion of births are by adolescent mothers, with 4% bearing children before the age of 15 and 23% between the ages of 15 and 19.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is recovering from decades of dictatorship and civil war that led to the deaths of up to 5 million people. The country remains a fragile state, with areas of enduring conflict and existing government structures that are unable to meet the needs of the population.

Despite the national elections of 2006 and 2011, inclusive and accountable governance, peaceful pluralism and respect for human rights, including women’s rights, are precarious. The country continues to face an uncertain democratic transition. Humanitarian crises are ongoing in several regions of the country and sexual and gender-based violence remains common.

Canada’s development assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, including through the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights and the fight against sexual and gender-based violence. Canadian programming also supports the human dignity (health), inclusive governance, and peace and security action areas of the Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada also provides significant humanitarian assistance to respond to the most urgent needs.

Key results

In 2017, as part of the Fight Against Impunity and Support to Survivors of Sexual Violence project, 5,823 victims of sexual and gender-based violence were provided with medical and psychosocial care. Moreover, over the course of the project, the rate of formal complaints from survivors that resulted in a verdict rose from 20% to 60% in targeted areas.

Canada also continued to provide support to the Support for Civil and Electoral Education project to increase public participation in the electoral process and in democratic life. More than 8 million Congolese have participated in civic-education sessions delivered across the country, with women making up 53% of the participants. The most recent educational campaign was broadcast on 77 local language radio stations and had a total listenership of more than 10 million people.

Through a health system strengthening project in the province of Kinshasa, Canada provided funding to improve the delivery of health services through local hospitals and clinics, with a focus on the needs of women and girls. The health structures benefited from training, staffing, construction and rehabilitation, while communities were sensitized on health-related issues such as pre- and post-natal care, hygiene and sanitation. As a result, between 2012 and 2017, the rate of prenatal consultations increased by over 15%, while the occupation rate of hospital beds increased by at least 20% in each of the targeted districts.

As part of the Improving the Lives of Women and Children Through Radio Dramas project, three radio series of 156 episodes each were developed, produced and disseminated between 2014 and 2017. The radio dramas were designed to encourage positive behavioural change related to health and gender equality. Those who listened to the programs were more likely to believe that girls have as equal a right to education as boys and were more inclined to use contraception than non-listeners.

Canada is also committed to providing humanitarian assistance to help people of the Democratic Republic of Congo affected by conflict and disease. Through partners, in 2017, Canada helped provide over 702,000 vaccinations, food to over 5 million people, and safe drinking water for over 300,000 people.

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