11 December 2002,
Goma/Nairobi --Rehabilitation of small roads will
shortly start in some parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.
It is a vital step in bringing food to the
hungry and boosting agricultural production, FAO said.
"The rehabilitation of more than
300 km of small roads close to Kinshasa, Kikwit, Mbanza Ngungu,
Mvuazi, Kisangani and Goma will give people access to the main
food markets in the region all year round", said Alexis
Bonte, FAO's Emergency Coordinator for the eastern part of
Broken bridges and major damage on
local roads will be repaired, FAO said. The project is part of
FAO's campaign to improve food security and agricultural
production in the rural areas. The roads will also improve
access for humanitarian assistance.
DRC is among the countries with the highest percentage of
undernourished people worldwide - 73 percent of the population
are undernourished in DRC, according to FAO. The number of
chronically hungry people increased from around 12 million in
1990-92 to around 36 million in 1998-2000.
Roads are crucial for fighting
access to local and regional markets cannot sell their products
and earn their income. If food supply is reduced and
doesn't reach the cities, prices often go up. This is why
the rehabilitation of roads is so crucial for fighting hunger
and malnutrition. Where farmers earn money, they will be able to
diversify their diet and to pay for health care and
education," Bonte said.
first focus on two roads (Ngungu and Kako Jomba Road) in North
Kivu close to Goma, which link rural communities with big food
markets. Roads will also be rehabilitated in Bandundi and
Bas-Congo provinces, and at a later stage the Old Buta Road near
Kisangani (Province Orientale) as well as the so-called Elephant
Road, also near Kisangani.
have contracted Congolese companies that will build bridges
along the roads, thus making them passable even during the rainy
season", Bonte said.
also includes a food-for-work component operated in cooperation
with the World Food Programme: people will receive food in
exchange for work on the roads.
"The benefit for the local population does
not end once the project is completed. We will hand over
wheelbarrows, spades, shovels, hoes and crowbars to the people
living along the roads, and they will be responsible for
maintaining the roads," Bonte added.
At the end of the project, FAO will also give seeds
and tools to help farmers restart or increase agricultural
When traders come to buy
agricultural products, they will have to make a financial
contribution to the local road maintenance committee.
Road work is expected to be completed by
June 2003. By the next rainy season, which is expected to start
in September 2003, farmers will be able to reach markets by
using the rehabilitated roads.
governments of Sweden and Italy have provided funds for these
Communication Officer, Kenya,
(+254) 2 272 91 60 / 272 51 28,
06 5705 3105,