Learn more about specific causes in Congo (Democratic Republic) that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe largest environmental issues that face the DRC today are poaching of nationally preserved wildlife, water pollution, deforestation, urbanization, air pollution, increased numbers of refugees who are responsible for soil erosion and poaching, and mineral mining.1 Most of the population in the DRC is aware of the current situation with the environment but high unemployment rates make it difficult for many to change their lifestyles, since often the most lucrative businesses are not environmentally friendly.2
FamilyIn the Democratic Republic of Congo, family planning services are provided as a part of integrated health services. Currently, the contraceptive use rate in the DRC is only 20 percent.1 Sexual violence has been referred to as a weapon of war in the country due to its commonality in wartime, but domestic violence is an equally pressing issue. There is difficulty in collecting statistics on how much domestic and sexual violence actually occurs due to social stigmas that prevent women from feeling safe or comfortable reporting these incidents.2
Human RightsThe government has limited its tolerance of freedoms of assembly, cracking down on public gatherings and demonstrations. Political opponents are often imprisoned and allegations of torture and ill-treatment in prisons go uninvestigated. It is estimated that, although there were only 59,000 internally displaced people registered at the end of 2017, there could be as many as 81,000 people displaced. Over 50 percent of families in the Pool Department region are experiencing food insecurity.1 During the 2011 elections in Kinshasa, over 57 opposition party supporters were killed by security and there were reports of voter intimidation. There has been little to no investigation into killings carried out by military forces.2 There are still very high rates of child soldier recruitment by armed rebel groups throughout the Read More DRC.3 Show Less
Education3.5 percent of primary-aged children in the DRC are not enrolled in school. 44 percent of the children who do enroll don’t begin their education until they are six years old. Only 67 percent of students who enter first grade will finish sixth grade. The Ministry of Education has seen many changes of government and remained intact while experiencing major structural changes for each regime. The country has a $100 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education that is in the process of being distributed.1 Children who have been recruited as soldiers lack access to education, or their studies have been disrupted. Their traumatic experiences have highlighted the need for a priority on psychological services rather than education.2 Many parents are forced to send Read More their children to work instead of school because of their desperate financial situation.3 Show Less
Poverty63 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.1 There are severe geographic and economic inequalities throughout the country. Furthermore, there are few roads and the cost of transportation is high, meaning there are limited opportunities for rural residents to move to urban areas. The country regularly occupies the lowest levels of the United Nations Human Development Index. The responsibility of harvesting the DRC’s vast natural resources often falls to the poor.2
ReligionIn the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the largest percentage of the population follows Christianity. 50 percent of the population are Roman Catholic, 20 percent are Protestant, 10 percent are Kimbanguist, 10 percent are Muslim, and 10 percent are other religions.1 Muslims are mainly found in the provinces of Maniema, Orientale, and Kinshasa. The constitution has clauses that support the freedom of religious expression.2 The Democratic Republic of the Congo has generally been consistent in upholding the protection of religious freedom. In order to have foreign religious groups enter the country, the DRC requires the written approval of the President.2
Clean Water52 percent of the population has access to clean water, but this number varies greatly depending on the density of the population. 81 percent of urban populations have clean water available to them, while only 31 percent of rural communities can say the same. Far fewer people have improved sanitation facilities; only 28 percent of the total population. This percentage does not vary significantly between rural and urban populations.1 The government does not have the necessary funds to overhaul and improve the water pumping system. The DRC has the highest urbanization rate in the world, which will only increase the strain on the water supply. Water-borne diseases are an increasing issue facing the Congolese people.2 Currently, there is no governmental oversight given to the Read More restructuring and maintenance of the water systems, which leaves the entire system susceptible to issues.3 Show Less
EconomyContinued political instability over recent decades has prevented the DRC from developing a stable and productive economy. None of the Millennium Development goals were met in 2015. Public debt remains low; in 2017 it was 15 percent of the GDP. Copper is one of the country’s main exports, along with diamonds and gold. The international price for copper dropped significantly in 2015, leading to financial difficulties nationally in 2016 and 2017. The DRC’s main trade partners are China, South Africa, and Zambia.1 Political instability has left public institutions unable to support economic expansion and has undermined diversification, foreign investments, and public support. Although the country is rich in natural resources with potential for lucrative mining and agricultural sectors, these resources often fuel conflict instead of Read More economic improvement.2 Show Less
GovernmentThe Democratic Republic of the Congo is a semi-presidential republic. The president is the chief of state and the prime minister is the head of government. The president is elected by a simple majority vote.1 Transparency International ranks the country 161st of 180 countries, and the Congolese public scores their government 21 out of a possible 100. Corruption and instability remain prominent concerns.2 There is massive mismanagement of the country’s natural resources and funds, weak governance is common, and political crises arise every few months. The DRC’s vast resource wealth is the source of much violence and political tension. It also serves as a catalyst for political instability.3
HealthThe average life expectancy in the DRC is 57 years. 4.3 percent of GDP is spent on healthcare annually, and the population is at high risk of contracting food or water borne diseases, especially hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and malaria. The maternal mortality rate is 693 deaths per 100,000 live births, while infant mortality is 68 deaths per 1,000 live births. There are an estimated 370,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.1 Decades of neglect of the healthcare system has left it in shambles. The government has not invested in the system, leaving citizens without access to care. The lack of investment and infrastructure has contributed to the issues arising from an overall poorly-trained medical staff.2 There are no existing national disease prevention measures, Read More such as immunizations. In urban areas where there is a dense population, the lack of proper sanitation systems exacerbates health issues.3 Show Less
ChildrenAbuse, malnutrition, lack of education, and chronic illness are all threats to children’s well-being. There is a major threat of sexual abuse; 45-60 percent of all rape survivors are under the age of 18. Sexual and gender-based violence against children is common. Furthermore, half of all Congolese children do not regularly attend school.1 In spite of international outcry, there are still very high rates of child soldier recruitment by armed rebel groups throughout the DRC. 2 The country has made progress with treatment of polio and child malaria, both of which have been nearly eradicated. After the appointment of a Special Representative to bring attention to sexual violence, the reports of such offenses have been cut in half.3
AnimalsThe DRC exists in the Afrotropical region of Africa. The area is dominated by swamplands surrounding the Congo river. Local plant life includes the Raphia palm, giant ground orchids, and arrowroot. These forests are home to the western lowland gorilla, chimpanzee, forest elephant, and forest buffalo. Hunting and poaching are common activities, and there have been major logging projects set up just outside the borders of wildlife reserves.1
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