In areas disrupted by war or disasters, people face the major challenge of rebuilding their country, while suffering from poverty, diseases and emotional consequences of conflicts. As a knowledge driven aid organization, HealthNet TPO supports DR Congo in rehabilitating health care, by using the concept of 'health' as both a goal and a means.
HealthNet TPO is working on improving the health of the Congolese people since 2003. Most programmes focus on health systems strengthening and health financing interventions. In addition, several innovative psychosocial programmes take place, in close collaboration with district health and education authorities, communities and municipal authorities. The aim is to increase likewise ownership and improve initiatives of self organisation to a level of structural embedding of psychosocial care in primary health care and in social work as well as in education to improve access to schools for young children who would otherwise be excluded.
Area: 2.344.858 km²
Population: 68.692.542 (in 2009)
Neighboring states: Angola, Congo, Central-African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia
Religion: Christians, with an equal number of Islamic and traditional beliefs
Political instability, oppression, corruption, coups and rebel groups have dominated Congo’s history since its independence from Belgium. The two wars of 1997 and 1998-2003 have caused five million deaths, created 1.9 million IDPs and another 440.000 refugees (see UNHCR). The wars were characterized by an unusually high incidence of sexual violence – atrocities which are blamed on government troops as well. Pockets of resistance and uncontrolled armed groups in especially eastern DRC continue to add to insecurity and difficulties of movement of goods and people. The largest United Nations peacekeeping operation in the world is based in the DRC (still largely known as MONUC but renamed MONUSCO on 1 July 2010). However, this large UN presence has been unable to ensure adequate protection of civilians. Many Congolese do not have any confidence in the UN mission which they sometimes jokingly name Monique instead of MONUC.
The government is considered one of the weakest and least effective in the world. The DRC is ranking 5th on the Failed States Index which indicates a very high level of economic and political dysfunction. It also implies that the government is not capable of proving basic needs for its people. Especially in the eastern parts of the country social life is marked by continued displacement due to insecurity mainly. The human rights situation is dire as well. One of the greatest concentrations of precious minerals and metals on earth can be found in the eastern DRC. These minerals are valuable assets that many actors have been vying for in the protracted civil conflict for over a decade.
In sum, the conflict in the DRC is associated with an endless scramble for power and resources between internal and external actors. While its resource wealth should easily support development and the proper functioning of the state apparatus, neither the population nor the state benefit from the country’s natural resource endowments.
The information in this chapter was written in September 2010. Large parts of the DRC are volatile, hence information tends to outdate quickly. For more updated information we’ll refer to one of the websites below. Note that there is far more online information available. (http://www.irinnews.org; http://www.alertnet.org/db/crisisprofiles/SD_PEA.html; http://ochaonline.un.org/Default.aspx?alias=ochaonline.un.org/DRC)