Emergency aid in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Project completed
People queuing in front of a distribution point for cash and basic household necessities.
Distribution of cash and basic household necessities. © Solidarités International

The conflict that has plagued the Kasai region since August 2016 has added to the numerous crises affecting the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has displaced more than 1.4 million people and plunged 3 million into food insecurity. Swiss Humanitarian Aid has extended its activities to this region where emergency aid is still almost non-existent. The SDC's intervention aims to cover the essential needs of people affected.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Democratic Republic Congo
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Emergency food assistance
Material relief assistance
Emergency rehabilitation
01.09.2017 - 31.03.2018
CHF 1'250'000

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been the scene of many conflicts for over 20 years. As of 30 October 2017, the DRC had a total of 4.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). North Kivu remains the most affected province. But the crisis that has hit the Greater Kasai region since August 2016 alone has displaced more than 1.4 million people and plunged 3 million into food insecurity. 

In this context, numerous acts of unprecedented violence – including massacres, rapes and kidnappings – have been perpetrated against civilians by all parties to the conflict. The forces involved have looted and burned down homes, weakening the socio-economic fabric and the market system. Basic services such as schools, hospitals, and places of worship have been badly damaged. 

Responding to basic needs 

Switzerland aims to bring immediate improvements to the living conditions of the people affected by the crisis of the provinces of Eastern Kasai and Lomami, where the humanitarian response is yet almost non-existent. By facilitating access to food, temporary shelters and essential household items for cooking, drinking and clothing, Swiss Humanitarian Aid is meeting the basic needs of those affected. This emergency aid targets 11,300 households (56,500 people). 

Assistance is performed by cash distributions. Beneficiaries can use the money received with dignity, covering their basic needs according to their own preferences. The amount distributed to each household is based on the cost of the items in the targeted area and the size of the household. As these regions have been hit by high inflation in recent months and prices fluctuate dramatically, they are constantly evaluated to ensure the programme is effective. In areas where food is not available, food fairs or distributions in kind are organised.

Staff checking the names of beneficiaries.
In order to ensure that aid is distributed to the people targeted by the project, the identity of the beneficiaries is verified. © SDC

One of the objectives is to strengthen the resilience of local population groups. That is why Swiss Humanitarian Aid is especially committed to protecting vulnerable people – whether they are internally displaced, returnees, host families or host populations – and to restoring the dignity of those affected, including support for their return home. 

The implementation of the project is led by Solidarités International, which has been active in the DRC since 2000 and was one of the first humanitarian NGOs to respond in the Kasai region. It works closely with the Caritas network, which is well established in the targeted provinces. Coordination with other actors and projects on the ground is also ensured in order to achieve maximum efficiency. 

A highly volatile context 

In August 2016, a local conflict between a tribal chief in Central Kasai and the national government resulted in an offensive by the Armed Forces, resulting in the chief's death. Since then, militias bearing his name have been formed, regularly attacking security forces and symbols of the state. Within a few months, the situation has turned into a conflict spanning six provinces. 

The prevailing insecurity has made access to the land difficult, causing two harvest seasons to be lost, which has led to serious food shortages and a sharp rise in prices. More than three million people now find themselves in a state of severe food insecurity, with currently 280,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition. 

Since August 2017, the intensity of the conflict has decreased and about 700,000 displaced people have returned home. These people lost everything and spent many months in the bush or in urban centres without any assistance. The crisis has resurrected many inter-community tensions, undermining peaceful coexistence.