Democratic Republic of Congo

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Save the Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Working in DRC since 1994, today Save the Children works in five regions in the troubled country. Working with local and international partners and government stakeholders at all levels, Save the Children implements a holistic approach to supporting DRC's children: getting children back to school, providing them with healthcare and nutrition support, and protecting them from exploitation and abuse. In 2012, Save the Children reached a total of 391,931 beneficiaries directly, including 250,190 children, and an estimated 709,517 indirectly through development and emergency response.

Challenges for Children in the DRC

  • War, hunger and disease have killed more than five million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1998. Nearly one child in every five dies before reaching their fifth birthday.
  • Families and children in the DRC remain at grave risk of mass atrocities. There hasn't been prolonged peace and stability in eastern Congo since the end of the 1998-2003 war, and armed groups have continued to carry out attacks on communities throughout the region.
  • It is rare, nearly nonexistent, to find a child who doesn't have multiple problems – acute malnutrition as well as lack of education, or abuse in the home on top of chronic illness. That's why our DRC programs have developed an integrated range of support – a child might receive regular health check-ups and start school, or be reunified with his or her family and given vocational training. This approach gives us the greatest chance of success with children and their communities. Through our capacity-building work, we've strengthened our emergency response and ability to confront the enormous obstacles of geography, conflict and uncertain funding to help the DRC's children. .

Our Response

Child Survival

In a country where nearly one in five children don't live to see their fifth birthday and which has one of the world's poorest health systems, we are saving lives. With increasing numbers of families displaced from their homes, accessing healthcare is becoming an increasing challenge. In 2012, we provided healthcare to thousands of adults and children through the training of hundreds of nurses, midwives, doctors and community health workers. As well as constructing, repairing and providing health centers with lifesaving equipment and medicines, supporting the identification and treatment of persons living with HIV and supporting the treatment of children with severe malnutrition..

Protection

Many aid agencies work on child protection and sexual violence, but few specifically address the needs of the 45–60% of rape survivors who are under 18. One of the major issues in eastern DRC is the continued sexual and gender-based violence against children. In 2012, we reached thousands of vulnerable children by training local leaders and communities to prevent and respond to exploitation, abuse, violence, and neglect, providing medical and psychosocial support to hundreds of separated and unaccompanied children, and identifying and supporting survivors of sexual violence.

Education

In less than one year, the deadline by which countries are committed to providing universal primary education, nearly half of all Congolese children – 3 million – are out of school. The recent conflict has also resulted in thousands of children dropping out of school and many schools being looted or damaged. Last year, we increased access to quality basic education for thousands of children in elementary schools across the country, training teachers distributing learning materials, constructing classrooms and establishing children's clubs that encourage children to stay in school.

DRC Facts and Statistics

  • Population: 77,433,744
  • Child Death Rate: 170 per 1,000
  • Infant Death Rate: 73 per 1,000
  • Life Expectancy: 56 years
  • Underweight Children: 24%
  • Human Development Rank: 186
  • Maternal Death Risk: 1 in 24
  • Girls' Education: 7 average years in school
  • Clean Water Access: 45%

Sources

Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program

Last Updated April 2014