The humanitarian crisis in DRC is among the world’s most complex and protracted emergencies. Acute complex emergencies continue in the conflict-affected provinces of North and South Kivu, Orientale and Equateur. There are large-scale humanitarian needs, particularly for the 1.8 million people displaced and their host communities. In non-conflict areas, the main humanitarian concerns include food insecurity and frequent outbreaks of diseases such as polio, measles and cholera. Recurrent expulsions of Congolese people from Angola also have significant protection and humanitarian implications.
The presence of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on Congolese territory continues to have an impact. Approximately 347,000 people remain displaced in DRC because of LRA activities, mainly in Haut and Bas Uélé in Province Orientale. The humanitarian response in these regions has been constrained by security problems, the limited presence of state actors and the difficulty of the terrain. In the Kivus, armed-group activity intensified during the first half of 2011. This resulted in more attacks on civilians, including sexual violence. The conflict in the Kivus is also increasingly spilling into the neighbouring provinces of Maniema and Katanga, largely due to the reconfiguration of the Congolese Army.
The number of security incidents affecting humanitarian actors increased between 2008 and 2010. There was a slight decrease in the number of incidents during 2011, but attacks are becoming more targeted and brutal. September and October 2011 were particularly violent, with two hostage situations and five humanitarian workers killed.
Throughout 2011, OCHA DRC maintained a presence in the most conflict-affected areas where needs are greatest. By working closely with clusters and provincial coordination committees, and by maintaining regular contact with the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSC0) and local authorities, OCHA now has a solid understanding of humanitarian situations and how to improve humanitarian access. OCHA often facilitated the humanitarian response in remote areas of DRC, such as Bendera, Shabunda, Walikale and Ango.
Through its management of the Common Humanitarian Fund, OCHA has also enabled humanitarian actors to respond quickly to emergency situations where regular funding was not immediately available. Pooled funding represented 35 per cent of the resources mobilized within the framework of the Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP). This has been instrumental in improving the humanitarian programme cycle. Common funds have further served as a pre-positioned reserve to allow for flexible and timely response to sudden or emerging needs. Fund allocation was
improved in 2011 through a more systematic involvement of clusters and provincial coordination committees in the early stages of the fund-allocation planning, especially in needs assessments and establishing priorities.
OCHA’s deployment of GenCap advisers has kept gender issues in the spotlight. The advisers provide demand-driven and practical support across the different sectors. This includes integrating Gender Minimum Engagements into the HAP and ensuring projects submitted to the Pooled Fund comply with these commitments. For example, road-rehabilitation projects are now staffed at a minimum of 25 per cent by women. Sexual and gender-based violence prevention projects now include boys and men, and sexual violence is less treated as a “woman’s issue”. The Protection Cluster increasingly includes sex- and age-disaggregated data in its protection monitoring, allowing a better understanding of where the risks lie. Fathers are now involved in nutritional education projects, recognizing their key role in deciding what is eaten at home, how much is allocated to food, who eats first, etc. As a result of a gender analysis, the Non-Food Items Cluster now includes a female hygiene kit in all its family kits.
Taking into consideration the presidential elections on 28 November, OCHA consulted with partners on drawing up improved inter-agency contingency plans in all provinces where OCHA has a permanent presence, including Kinshasa and for the western provinces. Over several weeks, OCHA gathered pertinent information, shared it with partners, called special meetings to carefully analyse risks and potential humanitarian consequences. In addition, OCHA ensured that MONUSCO briefed humanitarian partners on the various preparations and the security measures in place to allow for better analysis of possible scenarios and response preparedness.
The establishment a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit in Kinshasa, working through clusters, should provide a better identification of baseline indicators for planning and monitoring humanitarian response. A pooled-fund allocation has given clusters the possibility to visit projects and enabled every cluster to recruit a Data Manager. This is vital for more systematic and evidence-based monitoring and evaluation.
Through regular contact with authorities, armed groups and community leaders, OCHA DRC continued to advocate for the protection of civilians and humanitarian principles. Supported by a legal consultant, OCHA DRC participated in the “commission mixte”, composed of representatives of the Ministry of Planning, Belgian Cooperation, UNDP and NGOs. It finalized a provincial draft law to govern non-profit organizations in DRC, especially in North Kivu, South Kivu and Oriental Province. OCHA’s input helped ensure that these laws consider the specificities of humanitarian action and principles.