The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Democratic Republic of the Congo

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dec 2011

Continuous cycles of violence and insecurity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have left millions of people vulnerable and struck by poverty.

Attacks by armed groups, human rights violations, violence against women, looting and displacement affect day-to-day life in many areas of the country. Humanitarian indicators remain alarming – and services inadequate to meet basic needs – in areas such as health, water, sanitation, education, nutrition and food security.

Over 70 percent of the population lives on less than USD 1 per day, and 1.65 million people remain displaced. The long-term nature of the crisis has left many families with little or no ability to face new shocks, as coping mechanisms have been eroding for decades.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Well over 4 million people are facing a severe food and livelihood crisis. Livelihoods have become extremely fragile due to declining agricultural productivity, low purchasing power, extremely volatile input prices, effects of climate change, natural resource degradation, land disputes and poor infrastructure.

Decreased levels of crop, livestock and fisheries production, made worse by high food prices, are taking a direct toll on family food baskets. In 2011, several provinces – Kasaï Oriental, Kasaï Occidental and the north of Province Orientale – have shown a deterioration in food security, despite a 2 percent improvement in national acute malnutrition rates between 2007 and 2010 (from 13.4 to 11.5 percent).

Farmers are missing major planting seasons due to displacement, or lack of access to seeds and other key production inputs. Forced population movement, repeated looting of livestock and animal diseases – such as Newcastle disease and peste des petits ruminants – have reduced herds. Food conservation, storage and processing are virtually non-existent, preventing families from diversifying and increasing their production and income opportunities. Good agricultural practices are being eroded, and access to markets is becoming increasingly difficult.

Plant and animal diseases pose major threats to household food production and food security. Cassava mosaic disease – affecting one of the country’s most important staple foods – causes yield losses of up to 40 percent. Other plant diseases, such as Cassava Brown Streak and Banana Xanthomas Wilt, are emerging and intensifying particularly in eastern provinces.

Agriculture plays a fundamental role in the reintegration of former soldiers and marginalized groups, offering a return to an active social and professional life. It also creates employment opportunities for youth, the majority of whom find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of violence, poverty, illiteracy and social exclusion.

Women’s ability to recover from crisis and rebuild their resilience is more limited than that of men. They have less access to productive resources, rural employment, agricultural inputs and services. The promotion of gender equality is crucial for agricultural development and for society as a whole, as women are central to household food security.

Food Security Cluster response

As co-lead of the Food Security Cluster with WFP, FAO will help vulnerable communities fight hunger by restoring their means to produce food and generate income. Restoring agriculture will strengthen livelihoods, promote peace building and increase people’s resilience.

The 2012 Food Security Cluster Response Plan consists of two components: (i) food assistance through food distribution, cash transfers, food-for-work and food-for-training; and (ii) supporting the restoration of food production and livelihoods. The Response Plan will target vulnerable IDPs, returnees and host community members, focusing on women-headed households, the elderly and people affected by HIV/AIDS.

The Food Security Cluster will adapt its assistance to respond better to the needs of beneficiaries, moving away from direct distribution to more flexible types of response, such as cash-for-work and seed fairs. These types of activities assist individuals to restore their production capacity, while benefiting entire communities.

The Cluster also aims to improve coordination and strengthen the capacity of partners, as well as develop a common food security monitoring and impact assessment system. Resources dedicated to the Integrated Food Security and Humanitarian Phase Classification will also enhance the information available to determine the extent of the crisis and identify agreed priority areas of intervention.