Due to serious resource constraints, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will have to reduce or interrupt some of its activities as from this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), leaving thousands of people with no food assistance.
To continue its operations in DRC over the next six months, WFP, which is funded entirely by voluntary contributions, urgently needs US$75 million to see it through May 2014.
In the last six months, funding shortages have meant that WFP has already had to halve the rations distributed to displaced people in North Kivu province, at a time when the overall food security situation is deteriorating in that part of eastern DRC. Indeed, according to a recent survey conducted jointly by the provincial government of North Kivu and WFP, six out of ten families are food insecure, against three out of ten two years ago.
In North and South Kivu and in Orientale provinces, some 500,000 food-insecure displaced people will be affected by the funding crisis.
The provision of daily hot meals to thousands of schoolchildren is also in jeopardy, as is life-saving nutritional support to some 180,000 malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers across the country.
"We are very worried about the fate of thousands of people who depend on WFP food assistance," said Martin Ohlsen, WFP Representative in DRC. "At a time when the Congolese Government and the international community are intensifying their efforts to stabilize the eastern DRC, a suspension, even a reduction, of humanitarian assistance could seriously compromise our long-standing investment in improving food security, restoring livelihoods and building resilience."
"It's hard not to think that the tremendous needs in the Philippines and Syria are overshadowing cries for help from less visible, under-reported parts of the world," added Ohlsen, stressing the need for predictable funding over coming months.
Meanwhile, there is growing awareness about the threat of sexual violence in areas of conflict and WFP is working closely with its partners to ensure that the greatest possible measures are taken to protect women in the DRC, where rape and other violent attacks against women are rife. Food distribution sites are chosen in close consultation with women to limit their exposure to attack and, where possible, use is made of electronic vouchers for food and 'mobile money' to minimize friction between beneficiaries and the communities in which they live.
In DRC, one out ten children suffers from acute malnutrition and 6.3 million people are facing hunger and need food assistance. There are currently 2.7 million internally displaced people in DRC.