European Union funding helps millions access food as conflict engulfs Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

ByWorld Food Programme

European Union funding helps millions access food as conflict engulfs Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has reached some 1.2 million vulnerable people with US$ 17.5 million cash assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this year thanks in part to a contribution from the European Union (EU).

The contribution, which was received through the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), has allowed WFP to provide life-saving assistance to people in eastern DRC, where intensifying violence is worsening food insecurity and decimating people’s livelihoods.

Conflict in the east of the country remains the main driver of food insecurity and the source of Africa’s largest displacement crisis with 5.7 million people displaced.

“Money for families means they can afford food and medicines – this is critical when you are uprooted by conflict, and you have lost your homes and income,’’ said Peter Musoko, WFP’s Country Director in DRC. “We need to continue to be able to respond at scale and ensure that affected communities have continued access to the critical food assistance they require.’’

While the deteriorating security situation limits WFP’s access to those most in need, cash is one of the most effective ways for WFP to help displaced families fight hunger, and malnutrition and improve their food security.

“The EU has been funding WFP for many years in its efforts to address food insecurity in areas affected by conflict in the east of DRC,” says Johan Heffinck, EU Humanitarian Aid’s Head of Office in DRC. “This strategic partnership helps address our humanitarian priorities to assist internally displaced persons as quickly as possible. This makes our partnership very important.”

Where markets and financial sectors are functioning, putting money directly into people’s hands helps them to buy what they need the most. It gives them greater choice and independence. The latest WFP analysis shows that over 10 percent of the assisted people have an acceptable food consumption score, representing an increase of over 4 percent compared to 2021 in Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, and Haut Katanga as a result of the support.

“Between in-kind food assistance and cash assistance, I preferred cash because, having lost everything, we are able to better prioritize needs,” said Emedi Kisimba, who received WFP’s cash assistance in 2021. “I invested my money in livestock, which I sell to pay school fees for my three little brothers in secondary school. I also sell goats to pay for my children’s health care and for food expenses.”

According to the latest IPC report, over 26 million people, or a quarter of the population, are facing acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above). Maintaining regular food assistance is vital, especially during the lean season. Even when food is available, higher prices, triggered partly by rising fuel and transport costs, mean that vulnerable household cannot afford sufficient and proper nutritious food.

Continued support from donors such as the European Union is providing a lifeline for families in the DRC facing increased insecurity and deteriorating socio-economic conditions. Despite the challenging operating environment, WFP plans to reach a record 8.6 million people in DRC this year — over two million more than it supported in 2021 and needs an additional US$116 million to support critical programs for the next six months.