Democratic Republic of Congo

A group of people use hand digging tools to repair a road.

We have been working in the DRC since 2007, empowering the most vulnerable Congolese people to overcome hardships and build resilience in the face of one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises. In 2019, our work reached over 3.7 million people all across the country.


The context

The second largest country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo hosts one of the world’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises, mostly centred in the east.

Despite its vast human and natural resources, the country struggles with many challenges. A lack of infrastructure, a stunted economy and weak governance cause serious hardship and inhibit development efforts.

After two decades of ongoing conflict and insecurity, the DRC has the highest number of displaced people in Africa and the second highest number of severely food insecure people in the world.

Every day, the Congolese people face the triple threat of conflict, food security and disease. Ebola is endemic to DRC. Its tenth and worst Ebola outbreak — in the most unstable area of North Kivu — was declared over in June 2020, and the country is already facing another outbreak in the northwest.

Perhaps one of the most desperate challenges is lack of access to clean water. Insecurity and violence have forced people out of traditional rural and farming areas and into towns and cities. Escalating displacement coupled with mismanagement and lack of resources for water provision has led to a severe shortage of clean water. Three in four people in the DRC do not have access to safe drinking water.

All of these challenges have left 15.6 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Those displaced by war need safe places to live. Those whose homes have been destroyed need resources to build new lives. All need access to clean water and good sanitation.

That’s why we’re there. The Congolese people have always stood strong in the midst of emergencies. With integrated solutions that address the root causes of these problems, they can become more resilient than ever.

A mercy corps staff member crouches to speak to a group of people sitting down.
A Mercy Corps team member speaks with a group of women waiting to receive cash assistance. Wivine Imagilo, 35, left, fled from home when violence broke out in her village — her children were at school and fled separately, and they were reunited a week later.

Our impact

Since 2007, Mercy Corps has been providing urgent relief to millions of people in the DRC, at the same time building longer-term security and stability so that the Congolese people can build a stronger future. We focus on five priority areas:

In response to COVID‑19, we’ve adapted our programmes in order to continue reaching communities with lifesaving support. We have also introduced new programming to prevent the spread of the virus.

Cash assistance

Mercy Corps was the first organisation in the DRC to implement cash distributions and use electronic vouchers for food and other essential household supplies.

When newly displaced families arrive in a safe location, our teams provide them with cash assistance so they are able to buy what they need to survive — whether it’s food, shelter, medicine, or some other urgent need.

A mercy corps staff member hands a participant a name-tag.
A Mercy Corps team member registers Deodat Mawazo, 65, with baby Amani, 2, for a one-time cash distribution for her family. Deodat is part of the vulnerable host community that many displaced people have settled in within Walungu.

Since January 2019, we have provided 405,189 people with emergency cash assistance at a total value of $6,595,490.

Water, sanitation and hygiene

To help keep children healthy and prevent disease, we also support displaced people and host communities with access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Since January 2019, we have provided 263,184 people with emergency water, sanitation and hygiene assistance. We are currently undertaking one of our largest ever infrastructure programmes, rebuilding the water network in Goma and Bukavu to provide safe drinking water to almost 1 million people.

Young people fill water vessels.
In Goma, people fill up jerry cans with clean water at tap stands Mercy Corps installed in neighbourhoods around the city.
A group of people fill water vessels.
Mariam manages one of the clean water tap stands Mercy Corps installed in Goma. She has been selling water for eight months, and is happy to be earning a good, reliable income to be able to provide for her five children.

In order to combat diarrheal diseases — one of the top causes of death for children under 5 in the country — we’ve trained 7,000 Congolese women from eastern DRC who volunteer as ambassadors to promote hygiene and sanitation practices in their communities. These women reach more than 90,000 households every month.

In response to the tenth Ebola outbreak in the DRC, we helped communities in North Kivu prevent the spread of the virus through the establishment and reinforcement of local community structures. This included increasing the availability of information about Ebola through 40 pop-up information centers managed by local organisations, and improving access to water points and health centers by rehabilitating roads, bridges and other key infrastructure.

In 2019, we reached 1.1 million people with information about Ebola risks. Today we continue to work with communities to build awareness of the virus and prevent future outbreaks in the country.

Food security

In North and South Kivu, we work with communities, local leaders and governments to address the root causes of conflict and build longer-term food security and stability.

We focus on protecting and improving the health of women and children by improving access to affordable and nutritious food and encouraging best practices for breastfeeding, nutrition and child caring.

An adult sits against a wall with a child on their lap.
Through Mercy Corps, Esperance learned about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of her son’s life.

We also unlock small farmers’ potential to improve their productivity and increase their incomes. In 2019, we helped 11,587 farmers in South Kivu produce an estimated $1.4 million of agricultural produce.

Conflict resolution and governance

We help communities and government institutions better manage conflicts over natural resources and land. We support and train local development committees and push for the inclusion of women and young people in community and household decision-making.

Since October 2018, community institutions supported by Mercy Corps in South Kivu have resolved 1,197 intra-community conflicts.

Economic opportunity

We help create new jobs and livelihood opportunities, with a particular focus on women and youth.

By creating more farming jobs, we simultaneously increase food production and help stabilise communities by giving young people a sense of purpose and a stake in the future of their communities.

To empower local communities in business management practices, we also train participants on the management of village savings groups. Since 2018, 7,870 participants have been trained.

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