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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in reducing the numbers of Congolese living in poverty. (74833)

Assessing progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is very difficult owing to the lack to reliable data. The most recent social sector statistics data comes from a survey undertaken in 2001, which covered the third of the country under Government control at the time. DFID is supporting the Ministry of Plan’s Demographic and Health Survey in 2006 to start addressing this lack of accurate data. The United Nation’s Development Programme’s human development report for 2005, based on the 2001 survey, reports most recent statistics on the MDGs in the DRC as follows:

Years

Percentage

Live Births

Life expectancy

43

Children under 5 underweight for age

31

1 year olds immunised against measles

54

Births attended by skilled health personnel

61

Population undernourished

71

Percentage of population with access to improved water source

146

Percentage of population with access to improved sanitation

29

Infant mortality rate

129/1,000

Under 5 mortality rate

205/1,000

Maternal mortality rate

990/100,000

HIV infection rate

5.4

Net primary enrolment

54

1 29 per cent. in rural areas.

The situation has worsened for much of the population since 1990—as a result of civil war, large scale population displacement and the weakness of the state. It has been estimated that an additional 3.5 million people have died as a result of the war, either as direct victims of the conflict or from associated increased levels of disease and malnutrition.

DFID’s engagement in the DRC has increased rapidly over recent years in recognition of the enormous humanitarian and development needs in the country. Having spent £5.6 million in 2001-02, we have £62 million available this financial year. Our current transition programme follows the following themes:

1. Security and the Rule of Law

Support for the disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration of ex-combatants through the Multi-Country Demobilisation and Re-integration Programme (MDRP), support to army integration, reform of the police and justice sector, and local level peacebuilding and dialogue initiatives through non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

2. Functioning State

This includes support for the transition institutions (such as the Parliament, Electoral Commission and High Media Authority), the establishment of a professional and impartial media sector, and preparation for elections. The UK is the largest bilateral donor to the electoral process in the DRC.

3. Reconstruction

Support for infrastructure within the Government’s reconstruction plan, especially transport links; the development of a poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP); support to the social sectors (health, education and water) largely through NGOs; and the fight against HIV/AIDS through the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and NGOs.

4. Natural Resources and Enhanced Revenue Generation

We have funded research by Global Witness into the current state of natural resources management in the DRC. We are supporting the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in the DRC and developing our plans for further support for effective and transparent natural resource extraction and the re-establishment of border control systems.

5. Humanitarian

Around half of our programme is spent on humanitarian interventions either through UN agencies or NGOs, to address the complex and chronic humanitarian emergency that has faced the people of the DRC since the war. Our funding is principally channelled to the UN’s Action Plan for the DRC through its pooled donor funding mechanism.