Evaluation at FAO

Strengthening resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and contributing to poverty reduction in peri-urban Kinshasa through agricultural livelihoods support


This self-assessment, prepared by FAO regional offices and priority area leads implementing projects as part of the COVID-19 Programme, forms part of the evaluation of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme. The evaluation seeks to answer questions about timeliness, relevance, collaboration, normative values, business continuity and contributions of the COVID-19 Programme.

The Democratic Republic of Congo continues to suffer the effects of COVID-19. In July 2020, the NGO Elan DRC analysed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on households in the DRC. It found that COVID-19 had a negative impact on the country’s economic situation and, therefore, in the food security of households. Impacts were felt by low-income households, most of whom rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. For example, according to the study, 55 percent of households nationwide saw their incomes fall as a result of COVID-19.

In Kinshasa, the epicentre of the pandemic, 66 percent of households not only saw their incomes fall but also had to cope with increased expenditure and higher food prices. Faced with this situation, households adopted negative coping strategies based on reducing the frequency and quantity of meals consumed per day. As a result, people consumed less nutritious food.

  • In almost 64 percent of households, one member skipped a meal.
  • 31.2 percent of households went a whole day without eating due to lack of money or other resources.
  • 55 percent of households experienced a drop in income, particularly among the severely affected low-income households.
  • 94 percent of households reduced their consumption of basic goods and services during the pandemic.

FAO aimed to reduce and prevent food insecurity, rehabilitate and protect livelihoods, and improve access to food assets for food insecure households. To do this, FAO DRC, has a significant asset in that it has been present in the country since 1988. Together with the Government, FAO has built an operational mechanism and teams for rapid interventions in crisis and emergency areas. These efforts support and restore the livelihoods of populations affected by disasters, conflicts and crises while strengthening their resilience.

Targeting livelihoods and nutrition
The main objective of FAO Democratic Republic of the Congo’s contribution was to strengthen the socioeconomic conditions and nutritional situation of 2,550 affected households in Kinshasa, while reducing their risk to COVID-19 transmission. The activities that were implemented aimed to strengthen local food production of nutritious products, maintain access to food for the targeted households, stabilize their income and ensure dietary diversification – all this while reducing the risk of virus transmission along the agrifood system.

In order to achieve this goal, FAO’s contributions were articulated in two areas:

Reduce virus spread through contact and community cases by disseminating messages on how to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission

This was done through the distribution of 2,550 awareness leaflets in the local language (Lingala), the organization of well-designed campaigns in public places within the intervention zones, and the organization of exchange forums on COVID-19 within household groups.

Strengthen the availability of and accessibility to fresh local food products through the
establishment of associations for beneficiary households

This intervention distributed market gardening kits and provided technical support on horticulture, vegetable production and the consumption of nutritious foods. This was done through nutritional centres and 1,950 households that had been most affected by COVID-19. There were also efforts to disseminating training on responsible fishing and fish production and conservation to 600 fishers.

Good practices and lessons learned

  • The achievement of these results was possible thanks to close collaboration with government institutions, which facilitated access to land, provided technicians for awareness raising and preventive support, put traders in touch with producer households, and ensured synergy with local structures. The involvement of state agents was a very effective way to ensure sustainability. This aspect anchored the approach directly in the local system. This collaboration also allows FAO to reach vulnerable peoples living in hard-to-reach areas.
  • The interventions were implemented in a collaboration FAO/WFP/UNICEF. These institutions established a joint programme that strengthened the monitoring and supervision capacities of local Congolese state agents.
  • Community mobilization involving different segments of the population, such as local authorities, community leaders, civil society, community-based organizations, and vulnerable households, contributed to achieving results.
  • Community awareness in small groups of 20–30 people was a more effective communication and outreach strategy for successful behaviour change during a crisis situation.
  • The availability of masks, soap and hand wash in local markets facilitated the further adoption of preventive practices. Among the population, such practices should be encouraged to ensure the sustainability of FAO’s interventions and reduce the risk of virus transmission.
  • The intervention associative approach of the intervention contributed to creating alternative economic opportunities. These include the diversification of income sources and the ability to build up savings. Overall, this helped to improve diets and therefore food nutrition and security.
  • Reinforcing producers’ associations helped to enhance their skills and reduce the number of intermediaries. These beneficiaries were empowered to determine the price of their products for themselves. As alternative, the association members were also empowered to gather the product and sell it in a larger market in Kinshasa.