?DR Congo craving lasting peace and not aid
SEE ALSO :Raila at the launch of eKitabu challengeA United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) report released in September this year, (http://ponabana.com/en/humanitarian-situation-report-kasai-crisis-september-2017/) places the need within Kasai in the millions. It warns that 3.2 million people do not have enough food, and 350,000 children are severely malnourished. Without peace, there can be no end to this humanitarian crisis. If peace had prevailed, food delivered by relief organisations could be channeled to agricultural development, since the DRC has fertile arable land, with predictable rainy seasons that defies climate change conditions prevalent in other parts of the world. However, peace has not prevailed. Now, 1.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes in 2017 alone, to escape the protracted conflict, which is especially intense within eastern DRC. The internal fighting has led to loss of lives, sexual violence and an acute lack of essential basic needs such as food, water and shelter. Ray of hope
SEE ALSO :World Bank eyes stake in ailing ARMThe internally displaced people live in precarious conditions, with an estimated 42 per cent of the households facing food insecurity. Fortunately, despite this grim picture, there is a ray of hope. In Kasai, humanitarian agencies such as Christian Aid, Start Fund, the World Food Programme (WFP and ACT Alliance have been responding to the needs of some of the most vulnerable and hardest-hit civilians. Indeed, it is hard to imagine where local communities would be without the support of local and international organisations, who have helped avert the death of thousands of vulnerable people who rely on relief distributions for their survival. “In August this year, in partnership with the World Food Programme, we undertook two food distributions that targeted 75,000 people.,” says Salome Ntububa, Regional Emergency Manager for Christian Aid. The distributions in tonnage included: 60 tonnes maize floor, beans (18), vegetable oil (4.5) and salt (0.75). Each household received an agricultural kit that had vegetable-market garden seeds and farm tools. This humanitarian work is a necessity in a country that is one of Africa’s richest, and has been bedeviled by both bad governance and cross-border ethnic tension that has spilled over to Burundi. Previously, neighbouring Rwanda also faced the worst genocide on the continent that claimed the lives of around 800,000 people.
SEE ALSO :Fuel tanker crash kills 50 in CongoThere is clear evidence of life-saving work by humanitarian organisations within Kasai Province. However, their relief efforts – no matter how effective – can only ever go so far. Unless we address the root causes of the crisis, the plight of the Congolese people can only deepen in 2018. - The writer, a humanitarian communications specialist based in Nairobi, is managing director at MA Advance. He has worked in hostile environments across Africa, including DRC. @mikearunga