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Democratic Republic of Congo

The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have endured decades of civil war, a period over which 5.4 million Congolese died from violence, hunger and disease. While the war officially came to an end years ago, the eastern region of DRC remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis zones. Violence is rampant and rape against women and children continues to escalate. Rebel groups fight for control of the country’s vast natural resources (including gold, diamonds and rare earth minerals), terrorizing civilians and causing millions to suffer from ongoing conflict and displacement.

International Medical Corps began working in DRC in 1999. We have since served more than two million people in DRC, 80 percent of whom were displaced by the war. Today, we provide health care, nutrition, food security, sexual violence prevention and treatment, and water and sanitation services in some of DRC’s most remote and volatile areas, often where the presence of other international organizations is extremely limited or non-existent.

QUICK FACTS

  • Population

    Population
    77.4 Million

  • life

    Life Expectancy
    56.54 Years

  • life

    Internally Displaced Persons
    2.61 Million

  • life

    Fertility Rate
    4.8 children per mother

OUR PROGRAMS IN DRC

  • Population

    Health Care

  • Population

    Nutrition and Food Security

  • Population

    Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment

  • Population

    Care, Access, Safety and Empowerment

  • Population

    Care, Access, Safety and Empowerment

  • Population

    Water & Sanitation


CURRENT PROGRAMS

Health Care

International Medical Corps supports 68 clinics and hospitals in North and South Kivu, providing medical supplies, training for health workers, and referral and transfer for patients in need of advanced care. In areas with no clinics, International Medical Corps runs mobile medical units to give vulnerable populations access to vital health care services. We also deliver health care in three transit camps for refugees returning to their home villages.

In addition to supporting existing health facilities and providing mobile medical services, International Medical Corps works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations to increase the number of well-trained health professionals in DRC. We also continually educate communities on vital health topics, reaching more than 35,000 in 2010 alone.

Nutrition and Food Security

Together with UNICEF and the World Food Programme, International Medical Corps manages nutrition programs at 21 sites to treat severely and moderately malnourished children and adults. As a result of the comprehensive treatment provided at these sites, thousands of children have recovered from malnutrition. Ninety-five percent of children who enter our program recover, including those who are severely malnourished.

International Medical Corps not only provides direct care for malnourished people, but also works to create more sustainable solutions to hunger by engaging parents in the fight against malnutrition. To help parents take control of their families’ nutritional needs, International Medical Corps provides them with the education materials, tools and training to grow their own staple crops.

Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment

International Medical Corps’ work to treat and prevent sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in DRC began in 2002. Our holistic approach to SGBV includes integrating services for survivors into our primary health care programs, training doctors and community health workers in SGBV response, and sensitizing communities against SGBV through education and training. Through our long-standing collaboration with Panzi Hospital, International Medical Corps also trains doctors in remote areas to repair fistulas, which are potentially fatal internal ruptures caused by rape and poor birthing conditions.

In 2010, International Medical Corps was awarded a $16.1 million, five-year cooperative grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pledge of $17 million to address sexual violence during her trip to DRC in August 2009. As lead grantee, International Medical Corps is implementing the Care, Access, Safety, and Empowerment (CASE) project, through which we are increasing access to and quality of medical and psychosocial services for SGBV survivors, as well as providing assistance to individuals and families affected by SGBV. USAID also awarded International Medical Corps a $10 million grant in 2010 to address SGBV through “Behavior Change Communication.” Complementing our comprehensive and innovative program to prevent SGBV, International Medical Corps works with partners to utilize behavior change communication methods to impact social attitudes, practices and norms associated with SGBV in eastern DRC.

Care, Access, Safety, & Empowerment & Behavior Change Communication

The Care, Access, Safety, & Empowerment (CASE) and Behavior Change Communications (BCC) projects are complementary programs that take a holistic approach to addressing the needs of gender-based violence (GBV) survivors, while also preventing future cases by changing community attitudes around gender and violence. Funded by USAID and totaling $26 million, the two programs will be implemented over the course of five years in eastern DRC. This area is considered home to the worst epidemic of rape and sexual violence in the world; International Medical Corps has worked with local communities there since 1999.

Taking a holistic approach to rape and sexual violence in DRC, the CASE and BCC programs build the capacity of the health sector so that survivors have better access to quality medical services, as well as psychosocial care, legal support, and skills-building and educational opportunities. To prevent future cases, International Medical Corps is engaging communities in the fight against GBV to change public attitudes and opinions on gender and violence.

Water & Sanitation

As many health facilities in DRC lack running water, latrines and other basic sanitation services, International Medical Corps works with health centers to construct and rehabilitate water sources and install rain water catchment systems. To ensure the sustainability of these efforts, International Medical Corps establishes local water and sanitation committees and educates villagers on the proper maintenance and storage of water and sanitation supplies and sources. In addition, we stress the importance of water purification, proper hand washing and personal hygiene in our health programs.

RESOURCES

DRC Capabilities Statement

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CASE & BCC: A holistic approach to gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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