Democratic Republic of the Congo

While the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country rich in resources, protracted conflict, weak governance, disease outbreaks, and numerous ecological factors are among the recurrent shocks and stresses that continue to undermine the country’s prospects for sustainable development, requiring a multisectoral resilience approach.

man in rice paddy


As of June 2018, 13.1 million people in the DRC were in need of humanitarian assistance, 7.7 million people were acutely food-insecure, and 4.5 million people were internally displaced. The DRC’s sizeable youth population – with more than 68 percent of the country under 25 years old – represents a challenge but also a tremendous opportunity for human and social capital.

The Government of the DRC recently started to prioritize climate adaptation and disaster risk management, and international donors are tackling resilience challenges through activities in education, food security, health, infrastructure, and knowledge sharing. Progress will likely be slow, however, given the depth and complexity of the challenges facing the DRC. The ongoing Ebola international public health emergency that began in Ituri and North Kivu provinces further exacerbates underlying political and natural resources-based conflicts.

Complex Risk Environment

Conflict in the DRC creates the vast majority of humanitarian needs. Internally displaced people are the primary recipients of humanitarian aid. Disease outbreaks, pests, floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes are among the other recurrent shocks that affect millions of households in the DRC. Increasing weather variability makes rainfall less predictable, and weak governance and chronic instability resulting from conflicts over access to land, resources, and political power exacerbate these issues and hinder development. Millions of people face acute food insecurity and millions are internally displaced, damaging livelihoods and community social fabric.

Resilience Approach

The Government of the DRC is working on developing the country’s first disaster risk reduction policy. The country’s 2013 Poverty Reduction Strategy (its most recent) prioritizes climate adaptation and acknowledges the need for disaster risk management, including improving monitoring and forecasting capacity, and strengthening early warning systems and contingency planning.

International donor investments combine education, food security, and health programs with direct programming and partnerships to facilitate peace and recovery through conflict mitigation and management, interventions targeting youth that are vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups, capacity building of local governance institutions, and investments in responsible mineral trade that are creating licit livelihood opportunities for artisanal miners. Activities focused on knowledge transfer and infrastructure improvements help lay the groundwork for other resilience activities. Activities that build on existing strengths – such as strong social networks and social services delivered by religious institutions – also show promise.

Opportunities for Strengthening Resilience

Social capital is a proven powerful source of resilience in a wide variety of contexts and consists of the reciprocal obligation networks that give people the ability to lean on each other during times of need. The weakness of local government institutions stands in contrast to the strength and permanence of faith-based and civil society organizations as well as traditional community structures and social safety nets, particularly in rural areas. There are opportunities to strengthen these existing sources of resilience as well as foster new ones.

More Resources