About The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Introduction

Women taking a litterary class in North-KivuWomen taking a litterary class in North-Kivu, Copyrights: Joseph Moura - UNDP 2012

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is located in Central Africa and straddles the Equator. It is the second largest country in Africa with an estimated area of 2,345,000 km.

On the political-administrative level, the DRC is divided into 11 provinces, which will be further divided into 26 provinces with the implementation and recognition of the 2006 Constitution.  The 2006 Constitution  introduced decentralization as the means of political and administrative management  of the country in order to accelerate its development. The DRC is a post conflict country that includes  areas in the east in which there has been persistent  insecurity for over ten years resulting from the existence of  armed groups.

To date, the development of the DRC is characterized by the contrast between the potential natural resources in the areas of agriculture, mining and energy which are abuntant,  and the poverty of the great majority of the population. In its 2013 World Report on Human Development, the UNDP ranks the DRC 187th out of 188 countries based on analysis of  the Human Development Index (HDI: 0.304). This social insecurity, compounded by the difficulties that the country has faced related to  political governance, has increased the unemployment ratio over the years among  young adults.

According to demographic estimates, in the absence of a recent census, the DRC has a population estimated at some 70 million inhabitants, with the younger members of the population representing about 70%. A persistent imbalance exists between the rural population and the urban population, which are  60% and 40% of the population, respectively.

Urban population growth is rapidly increasing due to the rural exodus, which has adverse effects on agro-pastoral production and fishing in rural areas.

The protection of the dense tropical forest that covers about 55% of the national territory of the DRC and the country’s most important watershed represent  major environmental issues. Its gross domestic product (GDP) had positive annual growth for over ten years. The GDP growth rate was 7.2% in 2012 and should be 8.2% in late 2013. Economic growth is driven mainly by higher raw material prices and infrastructure investments made by the government. With the tightening of monetary policy and the relative stability of macroeconomic indicators, the inflation rate that increased  to more than 53% in 2009, has since fallen back to less than 3% in 2012 (2.63%). It is estimated that it should fall to 0.73% by the end of 2013, which may be compared with to the figure of 6.5% that was predicted earlier this year.

The will of the Congolese authorities to make courageous reforms in the management of public affairs and their involvement in various global partnership processes were relevant catalysts for progress made in the DRC at the macroeconomic level, which must continue to be pursued and made sustainable. Also, thanks to a rigorous program of reforms and economic recovery implemented since 2001, the DRC completed its obligations and reached its completion point  under the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC Initiative) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) in July 2010 and had a nearly 10 billion US foreign debt cancelled.

History

Achieving independence on the 30th of June 1960, the state that is the size of a subcontinent, four times larger than France and 80 times larger than Belgium, sees its destiny compromised by the political crisis that broke out in 1961, following the assassination of the Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba. Rebellions and institutional inability to establish order in the country  greatly threatened national unity and justified the seizure of power by the Army in 1965, thus opening the door to a long dictatorship. The wind of democracy was blowing in 1990.

The country attempted to experiment with political liberalization without great success. In 1997, a rebellion started in the East of the Republic under the leadership of the Alliance of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFLC) and ended the Mobutu regime.

Laurent-Desire Kabila took power. His former allies turned against him by creating other rebellions. He was killed in 2001. Joseph Kabila succeeded him in 2001 and engageed in negotiations with the rebel forces. An agreement was signed and a transitional government was established.

In 2006, multiparty elections inaugurated the start of a democratic era in the DRC, still facing chronic insecurity in its Eastern part, caused by the presence of various national and foreign armed groups. Today the country still profoundly feels the legacy of a long period of unhealthy economic and political management, followed by a decade of armed conflicts that killed probably more than 5 million inhabitants.

Challenges

The Report, drawn up under the supervision of the UNDP Office in the DRC, aims to relaunch the debate on sustainable development of the country by attempting to provide answers to  the following major concerns:

    * The role of economic growth in reducing poverty;
    * The contribution tothe GDP of the productive sectors;
    * The impact of institutional, structural, economic and sector reforms on poverty reduction;
    * The extent of support for sectors related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the Government in 2011 and 2012;
    * The contribution of international trade to  development considering an analysis of the structure of foreign trade for goods and services;
    * The contribution made by technical and financial partners (TFP) to the socioeconomic development of the DRC in 2011 and 2012;
    * The level of economic integration of the DRC in regional markets.

In the medium term, an optimal implementation of the strengthened Priority Actions Program and the pursuit of institutional reforms would encourage the growth sectors so as to significantly contribute to achieving the target of 12% in 2015 compared to the 7.2% achieved in 2012. The strong external financing dependence is the major risk which would handicap the socioeconomic development of the country. The outer multiple crises related to the economy, financial matters, and energy, etc., and the falling of raw material prices, combined with political, internal, socio-economic and security problems,  among other issues, are identified as constraints on development.

Results

A child learning algebra in KinshasaA child learning algebra in Kinshasa, Copyrights: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu - UNDP 2011.

The 2008-2012 program was established in response to the successful elections of 2006, which  created high expectations in the areas of poverty reduction and good governance, the two pillars of the program.

In the area of governance, UNDP did as follows:

-Helped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) through the acquisition of kits for voters registration and training of 32,000 electoral officers assigned to the revision of the electoral file (31 million voters), recruitment and training of 363,000 election officers and funding of 30,000 national observers, in preparation for the 2011 elections;
-Contributed to the development of regulations governing public accounts, the reorganization of structures, and capacity development of the Court accounts;
-Participated in the training and retraining of 3,527 police officers in the establishment of the first scientific police unit in North Kivu, in the reinforcing of the special police capacities for the protection of women and children in the North and South Kivu and the creation of legal aid centers;
-Facilitated the creation of infrastructure for the benefit of two brigades of Armed Forces of the DRC (AFDRC) and the infrastructure necessary for the quartering of 7,000 soldiers and about 20,000 dependent people in South Kivu and Ituri.
In the area of poverty reduction, significant results have been achieved, including:
-Contributions to political development and peacebuilding, for example the PRSP 2 and, in synergy with MONUSCO, the Peacebuilding Program (PBP) for the west of the DRC;
-The formulation of a new law on microfinance, currently awaiting promulgation;
-Improved access to basic services for 30,000 ex-combatants dependents and released 40,000 people in South Kivu following the opening of roads;
-Created income for 2,600 victims of sexual violence, on grounds of gender;
-As main recipient of the Global Funds against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the screening of 208,000 people and the administration of antiretroviral treatment to more than 40,000 people living with HIV / AIDS;
-The formulation of the UN-REDD program Preparatory National Plan, which leveraged more than $75 million in 2010, thus enabling DRC to become one of the nine countries to benefit from REDD's 'accelerated procedure' phase.