HotSpots H2O, May 14: Water Shortages, Malnutrition, and Ebola Overwhelm the Congo

The Rundown

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s once-peaceful Kasai region descended into violence in August 2016. Since then, conflict has forced more than 1 million people from their homes and cut off countless others from basic amenities. Many displaced people died after spending months in the bush without adequate food and water. In recent months, conflict has worsened, causing rates of child malnutrition to skyrocket in Kasai.

“Thousands of displaced children have spent months without access to the services they need – like health care, safe drinking water and education – and their wellbeing has suffered tremendously.” –Fatoumata Ndiaye, a UNICEF deputy director, in reference to the desperate conditions in the Congo. The conflict has left millions of children living in destitution.

By The Numbers

3.8 million Number of people in the DR Congo’s Kasai region in need of humanitarian assistance, including 2.3 million children.

400,000 Number of children at high risk of starving to death in the Kasai region. A total of 770,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

4.5 million Number of internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

70,000 Number of people who have fled conflict in the DR Congo’s eastern regions since December 2017.

$1.7 billion Amount of aid that the United Nations attempted to raise for the DR Congo at a recent donor conference. Only $530 million was pledged.

319,441 Number of people in the Kasai region who have gained access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services as a result of aid efforts by UNICEF and partner organizations.

On The Radar

Waterborne diseases and other illnesses routinely plague the Democratic Republic of Congo, but in the past month they have been overshadowed by the resurgence of Ebola. The deadly disease, which causes severe bleeding and organ failure, killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2013 and 2016. So far, 32 “suspected, probable, and confirmed” cases of Ebola have been reported in the Congo since early April. The World Health Organization is preparing for the “worst case scenario” as they try to combat the spread of the disease.

Resources and Further Reading

Conflict in the Kasai, Democratic Republic of the Congo (UNICEF)
DR Congo’s Kasai crisis: 400,000 children face starvation (BBC)
Hundreds of thousands of children close to dying of hunger in Congo, UN warns (The Guardian)
Kasai: A Children’s Crisis (UNICEF)
UNICEF: 400,000 children on ‘verge’ of death in the DRC (Al Jazeera)
WHO planning for ‘worst case scenario’ over DRC Ebola outbreak (Al Jazeera)
770,000 children in Congo’s Kasai area have acute malnutrition (IOL)

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