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Democratic Republic of the Congo
Rural communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo face steep hurdles, not least of which are armed violence, civil insecurity, poverty, acute malnutrition, limited access to natural resources and lack of basic social services. Ongoing violence has displaced 2.4 million people. FAO is working to strengthen people’s ability to produce food and earn a living – from improving access to training and resources to helping returnees and former soldiers find gainful employment in agriculture and fisheries. And in doing so, it hopes to contribute to peace-building and reconciliation.
Protecting household food security
Agricultural production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been in steady decline, despite good potential and abundant natural resources. Farmers, uprooted from their homes by fighting or unable to afford seeds, are missing planting seasons, while displacement, looting and disease are shrinking herds. Add high staple food prices and low purchasing power and it is clear just how challenging it is, especially as the country has increased food imports to meet growing demand in its main cities. By providing quality seed, tools and technical training, FAO is working to kick-start the country’s rural economy by helping returnees, refugees and host families produce and sell more food, as well as former soldiers build new, productive lives.
Creating income opportunities for women
There are twice as many poor women as poor men in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Limited access to inputs, land and services makes it difficult for women to earn a viable living. Many are victims of sexual violence, often shunned by their families and communities. FAO is working with partners to create new opportunities for women in agriculture, including in processing and marketing, and helping them to access land, productive resources, technical assistance and financing. Farmer field and life schools, which train farmers on agricultural techniques, nutrition and HIV, have been an excellent resource for helping women affected by violence reintegrate into their communities.
Getting goods to market
The poor state of the country’s roads, river ways and railways makes it difficult for many farmers to get to markets. FAO is helping to build storage facilities, like community granaries, and improve access to transportation. In addition to providing high-yielding seed and assisting people to produce quality seed, FAO is supporting farmer organizations to process and market what they produce. One way is through the World Food Programme’s Purchase for Progress project, which buys staple grains from low-income farmers, providing them with a reliable market at competitive prices. Another way is by improving the feeder roads that link food-producing areas to those markets.
Pinpointing food needs
The size of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the complexity and diversity of its humanitarian crises require coordinated, strategic and needs-based responses. FAO and the World Food Programme continue to co-lead the Food Security Cluster to improve coordination and ensure timely and accurate information on food and nutrition needs. Likewise, FAO uses the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) to classify the nature and scale of food insecurity throughout the country. According to the latest IPC reports, 6.3 million people are in urgent need of food and livelihood assistance – a figure that could rise as violence continues to displace more people from their homes and farms.