Challenges in the DRC
The DRC has struggled with civil unrest and conflict for many years. This has resulted in so many challenges, especially to the desperately needed recovery efforts and attempts to help rebuild, restore and improve quality of life for the Congolese people who have suffered and endured so much.
-Since fighting began in the Democratic Republic of Congo (August, 1998), over 5.4 million people have died, making it the world's deadliest conflict since World War II.
-The vast majority of people who have died in this conflict died from nonviolent causes such as malaria, pneumonia and malnutrition.
-Although this total number comprises 19% of the population of Congo, children account for 47% of the deaths. 45,000 are estimated to continue to die every month.
-It is estimated 1.5 million people are internally displaced.
The DRC has certain characteristics that present challenges and considerations for Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other international entities seeking to serve and help.
-It is the fourth most populous nation in Africa with over 75 million people and is the 19th most populous in the world.
-It has over 250 ethnic and tribal groups
-It has over 240 different languages and 700 different dialects
-It is the largest French speaking nation in the world
-It is predominately Christian (Catholics and Protestants combine to make up 75% of the population and only 10% are Muslim).
-It is one of the poorest countries in the world. 50% of the population live below the poverty line.
-It has the lowest GDP per capita in the world = $600
-It's literacy rate is 67% of the population (females 57%)
-Killer diseases in Congo include malaria, sleeping sickness, typhoid,
cholera, HIV/AIDS, Ebola
-Excessive poaching, deforestation, lack of environmental protection laws,
lack of law enforcement agencies, bad farming practices, excessive and
unsafe mining, poor sanitation, lack of clean/sanitary drinking water...
-There are not enough schools, limited healthcare, few reliable income
-Life expectancy in Congo is 50 years compared to 79 years in the US
-The median age in Congo is 18 compared to 38 in the US
-18% of the planet's remaining tropical rainforest is in Congo, yet
increasing destruction due to a growing lumber industry and community
burning of trees for cooking fuel is fast diminishing this resource
with potential for a dire impact on the global environment
-peace and reconciliation
-child soldiers and high risk youth
-sexual and gender based violence
Despite being relatively isolated, the Itombwe forest is under a series of threats, including artisanal logging, hunting, poaching, mining and pressure from human populations.
Following almost two decades of conflict and chronic instability in the region, large numbers of people have settled here and are converting the forest for agriculture and pastures.
This situation is exacerbated by the discovery of valuable minerals such as coltan and cassiterite and to a lesser extent diamonds. Uncontrolled armed groups in the region fight for control of these resources.
A decade of conflict has led to wide availability of arms and ammunition, and some areas remain under the control of small bands of rebels.
Destruction and degradation of great ape habitats followed by large-scale mining are the biggest threats facing the Itombwe forest.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
"Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one's own situation so as not to be overcome by them." - Howard Thurman