DR Congo: Humanitarian Aid
Armed conflicts raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for almost two decades have left devastating consequences for the civilian population. The most recent war of 1998 to 2003 ended in the forced mass displacement of inhabitants, breakdown of the health system and food scarcity, which contributed to a major increase in mortality. A formal peace agreement was signed in December 2002, but since then numerous local conflicts have broken out in the eastern provinces. Consequently, the war has been extremely detrimental to the lives of local inhabitants.
People in Need helps in areas where acute malnutrition is rife. We supply high nutrition milk to healthcare centres and also, train staff and field assistants to help detect seriously malnourished children and provide them with subsequent healthcare. We also organise awareness campaigns to inform the parents of such children concerning all of the options available for tackling malnutrition. We operate in inaccessible areas of South Kivu, Maniema and near the borders with Burundi, where over ten thousand people sought refuge during the increasing conflict, which considerably complicated food-provisioning capabilities.
Emergency Response to Food Security Crisis in Kalole
The overall goal of the intervention is to contribute to the improvement of living conditions of the people affected by the crises by enforcing food security in the area.
The intervention contributes to the improvement of immediate and medium-term food security through cash support, better access to improved seeds, tools and trainings for farmers and their families. PIN targets the most vulnerable households, including those without access to land. For these households, the intervention supports groups and facilitates access to community fields for sowing and harvesting. Setting seed banks will allow the inhabitants to plant crops also in the next season, and to increase the availability of improved seeds in the area.
Treatment of acute malnutrition in Kabambare
Combating acute child malnourishment
In the inaccessible areas of the Congo bush in the Shabunda region, we focus on the treatment of acutely malnourished children, the transport of nutrition supplements to the health nutrition centres and the training of medical staff. That is accompanied by raising awareness in communities covering information about prevention as well as timely detection of malnourishment and the options for suitable treatment. For instance, last year in Shabunda we helped 19,287 people. We are continuing to help in 2017, when we intend to provide help to 36,330 people.
Work in Shabunda is complicated by the difficult terrain where all aid, including medicines, is airlifted in via humanitarian flights and subsequently transported by motorbike or even on foot to distant villages and healthcare centres. To complicate matters, a number of rebel groups operate in these areas, which are rich in natural resources, threatening the safety of local people and complicating the work in the terrain.
In 2015 and 2016 we also helped mothers and children amongst the refugees from Burundi who, in reaction to the worsening political situation at home, crossed the borders into eastern Congo which is already suffering from food scarcity. Under this programme we were able to help a total of 2,629 children suffering from acute malnourishment, children both from Burundi and from the host communities.
Restoration of health care in the remote rural areas
People in Need operates in several remote and unstable areas of South Kivu. It strives to strengthen the health infrastructure in the province and make basic health care accessible to internally displaced persons as well as the local host population.
Particularly, we focus on supporting the centers by training of their personnel, rehabilitation of the physical facilities, providing basic medicines, equipment and materials. In addition we provide performance related payments to the personnel of the supported health centers in order to ensure the free primary care to the internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups. Within our programs we promote good hygiene and nutritional practices which are crucial for sustainable improvement of the health status of the population.
Given the poor conditions of the centers, People in Need also focuses on reconstruction of maternities and health center buildings, and installs new facilities such as latrines and rainwater catchment systems. The health personnel is also trained in the basic medical facilities hygiene, which comprises the burning of infectious material and the use of appropriate cleaning agents.
The community health volunteers are one of the main channels for the awareness raising. They are usually trained by PIN in different messages which they transmit to their neighbors during subsequent village meetings.
Some examples of the messages:
- The handwashing before every meal and after using the toilet is essential to prevent diarrhea and other diseases;
- The breast milk is the best food for the infants up to six months;
- The birth in the health facilities is safer, because the trained health personnel is able to intervene in case of obstetrical or new-born emergencies.
Furthermore PIN provides psychosocial and medical assistance to the rape victims and abused women, with an increased focus on prevention of rape by the sensitization of the communities and its leaders. (According to the UN estimates, up to 200 thousand women have been raped in the South and North Kivu provinces in the last 15 years.)
Along with the activities mentioned above, PIN collaborates extensively with the Provincial Health Department on the capacity building of the health care personnel and community volunteers.