DRC: $7.1 million to boost humanitarian response in the east

10 December, 2013
Cholera is endemic in Eastern DRC where every year thousands of cases are recorded. So far in 2013, Katanga Province tops the list with over 12,600 cases. Considering the recurrence, long term investment in water, health and sanitation is needed in DRC to stem the disease. Credit: OCHA/Gemma Cortes
Cholera is endemic in Eastern DRC where every year thousands of cases are recorded. So far in 2013, Katanga Province tops the list with over 12,600 cases. Considering the recurrence, long term investment in water, health and sanitation is needed in DRC to stem the disease. Credit: OCHA/Gemma Cortes

Hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians in and around Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are watching and waiting to see whether the brutal conflict between the Congolese army and the M23 rebel group is truly over. More than 500,000 people were forced to flee their homes during the 18-month-long conflict. OCHA’s pooled fund is ready to support them in returning home and resuming their lives.

The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), a multi-donor funding facility in the DRC, has allocated US$5.6 million to United Nations agencies and NGOs to help those who are still displaced, and those ready to return home in the next six months. A further $1.5 million will support efforts to control measles and cholera in Katanga province.

The funds will focus on communities in North Kivu that are considered particularly in need of assistance in the areas of Masisi, Rutshuru, and Beni.

“Water, health and shelter are people’s most pressing needs,” says Moustapha Soumaré, Humanitarian Coordinator in the DRC. “Food is also a concern, especially in the first period of return; however in the medium to long term, the potential for economic recovery should impact positively on food security.”

“Dealing with unexploded ordnance is also pressing,” he adds, “and people in every location are asking for the resumption of children’s schooling as soon as possible.”

Most of the displaced live with host families, who may also benefit from projects supported by this funding.

Cholera, Measles in Katanga

North Kivuhas attracted most of the humanitarian funding and international attention in the past 18 months, but the humanitarian community continues to provide assistance to other crisis regions of eastern DRC.

800 kilometers further south, in the mineral-rich Katanga Province, humanitarian organisations have been fighting a different kind of enemy since the beginning of the year: cholera and measles. More than 12,600 cholera cases have been recorded this year, and 43 of the 68 health districts have been affected. The highly contagious water-borne disease has killed 302 people, many in less than 24 hours. In the last decade, over 250,000 people in the DRC have contracted cholera and nearly 8,000 have died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The capital Lubumbashi has also been affected.

Measles, another contagious disease, is also seriously affecting children in the province, where health authorities have recorded over 8,100 cases and 120 deaths from the disease. The Humanitarian Fund, also known as “the Pooled Fund”, is investing $1.5 million to stem the spread of these diseases.

“Fighting disease requires money, technical capacity and personnel. A concerted effort, notably with cholera, is needed from water, health and sanitation experts,” said Soumaré.

This new money comes a few weeks after the Fund allocated $720,000 for a two-year project to fight cholera in the city of Kalemie on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The lake is a main source of water for thousands in Kalemie. It is also the primary source of cholera.

Katanga was considered a relatively stable part of eastern DRC. But the proliferation of armed groups in the province in recent years has undermined this reputation. There are now 360,000 IDPs in Katanga, including 43,000 who were displaced in the first quarter of this year alone.

The CHF is a country-based fund that pools money from different donors. Aid agencies can draw from this pool to ensure that urgent needs are met quickly and efficiently. Created in 2006, the Pooled Fund has received more than $805 million from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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