WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved support to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help poor and vulnerable communities find better livelihoods and to rebuild community infrastructure, focusing on the conflict-affected eastern part of the country.
The new DRC Eastern Recovery Project will be funded by a US$79 million IDA* grant, serving North Kivu, South Kivu, and Oriental provinces, including isolated areas from which youth have often been recruited by armed groups. The project will help communities to recover from three decades of severe conflict.
Rebuilding social infrastructure such as schools, water points and bridges is extremely important in conflict-prone areas as it is a visible reminder of government presence and helps resume life as normal. Designed to address some of the drivers of conflict, the project will benefit about 310 communities.
In addition, the project will help people find short-term work, chiefly through labor-intensive rural road rehabilitation. As eastern Congo has high agricultural potential, it will also help them to build sustainable livelihoods by supporting agricultural value chains and increasing the profits earned by small farmers.
“Eastern DRC is home to some of the world’s most vulnerable people; people who have suffered as long-running conflict has wrecked their livelihoods, damaged infrastructure, halted public services, and destroyed the social fabric,” said Eustache Ouayoro, World Bank Country Director for the DRC. “We have responded to this challenge of recovery very quickly, as it is central to our mission of eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, and I expect that we will see results by April this year.”
Conflict-related deaths in this densely populated area are estimated to have crossed five million over the past fifteen years. Millions more people have been displaced and dispossessed as a result of conflict and instability, and social and economic inequalities are very high, contributing to tension and volatility.
The new grant is in addition to the World Bank’s May 2013 commitment of US$ 1 billion to support peace and stability in Africa’s Great Lakes region. The World Bank’s country assistance strategy for the DRC over the period 2013-16 also focuses on reducing fragility in the country.
“The DRC is likely to have the world’s eleventh-largest population by 2050, but currently has the world’s lowest human development indicators,” said Maurizia Tovo, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project. “The Eastern Recovery Project is another step forward towards changing this situation, by helping to bring much-needed services to under-served people and by giving them a chance to escape poverty.”
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.