Humanitäre Hilfe im Kongo
Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Emergency aid for families in areas difficult to access

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The people in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are being severely affected by ethnically motivated armed conflict. In addition, the area is so hard to reach that it is almost impossible to deliver emergency aid there. In a first step, HEKS/EPER is assisting people in repairing access roads to make them passable for vehicles, thereby facilitating the provision of emergency aid.

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The Bwito chiefdom in North Kivu Province is plagued by complex ethnic conflicts. Delivering humanitarian aid to these areas is therefore an enormous challenge. Moreover, it is almost impossible to reach the people being affected by the conflict as there are virtually no passable roads. Getting emergency aid to these people is further compounded by the fact that most of the NGOs in Goma lack either the will or the skills required to negotiate with representatives of the various armed groups to gain access to the Bitwo region. The ICRC has therefore enlisted the help of HEKS/EPER and its existing contacts with local NGOs to facilitate access to Bwito. But the roads will first have to be repaired.

The bad condition of vital road links is largely responsible for the collapse of the local economy and by extension also for the lack of outlets for local agricultural produce. This has in turn led to a massive spike in criminality, the forced recruitment of children, adolescents and adults, as well as to forced labour and the collection of illegal taxes by the numerous armed groups.

There is a pressing need for food and everyday necessities in the area. People are also in need of medical supplies, access to water, sanitary facilities and drinking water. In particular, children need special protection and access to schooling. To make it at all possible for supplies to reach the affected people, HEKS/EPER is first supporting efforts to improve the roads leading into the area. To this end, 1,920 families are working 20-day stints in exchange for which they each receive 20 US dollars (cash for work) so that they can provide themselves with the most basic necessities. The aim is to reopen to traffic the roads from Bambu to Katsiru and from Singa to Kashalira.

Access to services and income

Since early summer 2020, HEKS/EPER has been working to facilitate access for the people in the North Kivu region to basic services like education, water, hygiene as well as sanitary facilities. The project benefits some 800’000 people living in the affected areas. Roughly 48’000 people receive financial assistance – for the most part households headed by women, families that take in orphans, households where handicapped, elderly or chronically ill people live, as well as low-income families.

HEKS/EPER also supports communities by building water supply, hygiene and sewage infrastructure. These activities are conducted under the cash-for-work programme, which generate work for the local people. The aim is to build secure and reliable livelihoods and buttress the resilience of the communities. Enhanced conditions of production and market access to are inducing an economic upswing, thereby laying the groundwork for peaceful coexistence. The project has some 90’000 beneficiaries in the especially hard-hit Bwito and Bahali regions of North Kivu. The focus is on protection and emergency assistance for displaced women and children.

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