Over 180,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east will benefit from a 50 million euro grant from Germany to bolster resilience in the impoverished and conflict-ridden country, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
The funds will be channelled via the German Development Bank to a four year assistance programme centred on the DRC's troubled eastern Kivu provinces, according to a joint statement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme.
The 2020-2023 programme launched this week will aid peace and stability in North and South Kivu by assisting rural dwellers - mostly small farmers, according to the statement. Under the programme, local farmers will get help to boost their agricultural production and improve post-harvest management, diversify their income-generating activities, and improve nutrition and basic social services, the statement said.
In North and South Kivu, the socio-economic fabric has been destroyed by decades of conflict, displacement and recurring agricultural and climate shocks. Local warlords often take advantage of adolescents’ vulnerability and low levels of education to enrol them in armed groups, the statement noted.
“Building resilience is fundamental to strengthening nutrition-sensitive agriculture, social cohesion and access to basic social services for vulnerable populations. Without food security, there can be no peace. The integrated approach of the FAO-UNICEF-WFP project will help boost vulnerable communities’ food security and nutrition,” said Aristide Ongone Obame, FAO Representative in the DRC.
DRC is one of the most fertile countries on earth and has great agricultural potential with approximately 80 million hectares of arable land – the second-largest cultivable area in the world after Brazil. It is also home to approximately half of the continent’s water resources.
Yet, weakened by war and extreme weather, DRC's potential remains largely unexploited and it remains one of the world's poorest countries, the statement pointed out.
"This programme will help mitigate the devastating effects of conflicts and agricultural and climatic shocks, and help the communities build a better future for themselves,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP's representative in DRC.
WFP has made strengthening community resilience a central focus of its operations and believes a joint approach with FAO and UNICEF can provide more comprehensive assistance and broader skills training to beneficiaries of the programme, Jibidar said.
The Government of Germany has been supporting resilience building activities in the Kivus since 2017 with a contribution of 35 million euros through a joint FAO-WFP programme which is due to wind up in 2020.
The new programme will build on the successes of this programme, which has reached more than 400,000 people. It will be launched on Wednesday in Goma and on 6 March in Bukavu by the governors of North and South Kivu, senior representatives of WFP, FAO and UNICEF, representatives from the provincial and German governments.