Our humanitarian action in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Following the merger of our sister organization Street Child UK and the British organization Children in Crisis, their programs in the DRCare now part of our own. The Democratic Republic of Congo and more particularly the province of South Kivu has been involved in violent conflict for many years, and the school system is therefore fragile. Schools are often not large enough to accommodate all children or families can not afford to send their kids to school. That's where Street Child comes in.


Why the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Despite its substantial natural resources, wealth and imposing size, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ranks among the poorest countries in the world. It is still recovering from the violent conflicts that ravaged the country in the 1990s and cost the lives of an estimated 5.4 million people through disease and malnutrition. The war has also left huge educational challenges in the country.

We are currently working in South Kivu, one of the most conflict-affected eastern provinces, in two different locations. The first is the High Plateau – a remote mountainous region  – which suffered some of the worst violence during the civil war. While much of the DRC  now enjoys relative peace, there is ongoing inter-ethnic violence and insecurity in this remote region. Communities have been displaced and schools destroyed, leaving children out of school. Yet few NGOs work in this remote region because it is so difficult to access.

The second location of our work is the refugee camp in Lusenda, 70 km from the Burundian border. The camp was formed in 2015 following the political instability in Burundi which caused over 400,000 refugees to flee the country. There are still 46,000 Burundian refugees in DRC, the largest proportion of which are housed in Lusenda camp. Local Congolese schools in Lusenda have struggled to meet the demands of the huge increase in students as a result of the refugee influx and many children are missing out on quality education.


What We Do.

On the South Kivu Plateau we are applying our proven model to revitalise the education system and improve communities’ ability to support their children’s education. We are taking a multi-level approach that includes teacher training, school quality management, engaging parents, removing economic barriers to education and tackling social and cultural barriers that prevent disadvantaged girls from receiving education. We also have a school infrastructure improvement programme, under which we have built and rehabilitated 22 schools to date.

In Lusenda where secondary schools are particularly overstretched, we have trained secondary teachers to improve the quality of teaching, and provided teaching materials, student kits and uniforms.In total we aim to support 20,000 children in DR Congo over the coming years.

Rebuilding Schools (2017-2020)

During ethnic conflicts extremist groups terrorised the population and targeted school buildings. As a result of these acts of violence school complexes are in dire need of repair before children can safely return to their classrooms.

  • Since 2007 SC has successfully rebuilt 20 schools and we are planning to rebuild a further 7 schools (4 secondary schools and 3 primary schools) as part of our comprehensive plan to rebuild educational infrastructure in Rural DRC. As part of this rebuilding process the lack of community resources has been tackled through the establishment of several social enterprises.

  • SC will support the creation of a management committee composed of 7 members of the local community including 3 to 4 women representing different ethnic groups. The committee will work together to manage income.generating activities to maintain the school buildings.

Lusenda Refugee Camp: Child protection (2018)

Since 2015 more than 400 thousands displaced people originally from Burundi have sought refuge in the DRC to escape human rights abuses, political uncertainty and humanitarian crisis. According to the UNHCR this refugee crisis is regarded as one of the world’s least funded.

  • Currently Lusenda Refugee Camp in the DRC hosts 30 thousands Burundian refugees. Due to the lack of funding, the population of our established Refugee Camp have been living in squalid living conditions. Furthermore overcrowding has led to high rates of gender-based and sexual violence.

  • In response to this critical condition SC has provided a dynamic humanitarian programme which was intended to tackle the primary needs of vulnerable adolescent refugees with a six month pilot project called “Tackling Period Poverty” for 20 girls and young women with small enterprises sewing sanitary towels and making soap for sale for a general increase of basic hygiene.  

Safers Schools: Improve Education quality and empower women in social enterprises in rural DRC (2019-2021)

This 3 year long project takes place in the most remote and underserved area of DRC: the High Plateau of Uvira and Mwenga in South Kivu where SC addresses prioritarian needs such as: early marriage, child protection, disability, displacement and peacebuilding.

  • The project’s target will be 22,700 children in 30 secondary and 90 primary schools and will benefit a total of 37,700 people in total, transforming their learning experience by raising the quality of teaching and management. This will be achieved through teachers support, parents and community leaders working together to improve the safety of schools and communities so that children can study and develop in a safe and enabling environment.

  • This project will be implemented by Street Child in partnership with its long standing partner EMI. EMI is a Congolese organisation that has worked with Street Child subsidiary Children in Crisis since 2007 to improve the quality of education and increase access for the most marginalised children.

Building Schools
Tackling Period Poverty
Safer Schools

Stories from our work

Aimée: Girls Leadership Camp Participant   Aimée* is 18 years old and is about to start the 5th year at Institut Bigaragara in the pedagogy section. Aimée would like to be a teacher when she finishes her studies. She is a member of the school club. The woman that Aimee most admires is an MP known as Mama Nimana who is standing for parliament in Goma and came to visit Minembwe.   “Learning about early marriage is important for us. I want to finish my studies first before I get married. Too many girls get married young. We need to find ways to change parents’ views, so they do not allow their daughters to marry too early. Getting married too young is bad for girls and boys. They don’t know how to act when they are married and cannot take care of their children properly.”

Aimée: Girls Leadership Camp Participant

Aimée* is 18 years old and is about to start the 5th year at Institut Bigaragara in the pedagogy section. Aimée would like to be a teacher when she finishes her studies. She is a member of the school club. The woman that Aimee most admires is an MP known as Mama Nimana who is standing for parliament in Goma and came to visit Minembwe.

“Learning about early marriage is important for us. I want to finish my studies first before I get married. Too many girls get married young. We need to find ways to change parents’ views, so they do not allow their daughters to marry too early. Getting married too young is bad for girls and boys. They don’t know how to act when they are married and cannot take care of their children properly.”


Mathieu: Young Leader   Mathieu* is 18 years old and one of the leaders of the school club, which has 10 members (6 girls and 4 boys). The school club has had a busy 18 months. After creating a map which illustrated the major needs of the school according to the club members’ views, they worked with other students to create a fence made of wood to prevent cows from entering and soiling/damaging the school grounds.  He also mobilised other students to collect bricks and other building materials to the school premises for the construction of a set of two new classrooms. They also undertake regular litter-picking in the grounds. They’ve held discussions around issues such as gender rights and early marriage and have developed and performed some drama sketches to other students on these themes. Mathieu would like to be a teacher. He has enjoyed being part of the school club. He believes the range of skills he has developed and experiences he has had will stand him in good stead for his future career.

Mathieu: Young Leader

Mathieu* is 18 years old and one of the leaders of the school club, which has 10 members (6 girls and 4 boys). The school club has had a busy 18 months. After creating a map which illustrated the major needs of the school according to the club members’ views, they worked with other students to create a fence made of wood to prevent cows from entering and soiling/damaging the school grounds.

He also mobilised other students to collect bricks and other building materials to the school premises for the construction of a set of two new classrooms. They also undertake regular litter-picking in the grounds. They’ve held discussions around issues such as gender rights and early marriage and have developed and performed some drama sketches to other students on these themes. Mathieu would like to be a teacher. He has enjoyed being part of the school club. He believes the range of skills he has developed and experiences he has had will stand him in good stead for his future career.

Belize: Sewing up old wounds   Belize* arrived in Lusenda refugee camp in July 2015, fleeing political unrest and a humanitarian crisis in Burundi. She is only 19 years old has a 2-year-old son which she cares for herself as the father is not around. Having arrived at the camp alone, scared and without any money she is most grateful for having been picked amongst many other extremely vulnerable women to learn tailoring and soap-making skills through the Period Poverty Project. Today she is able to make clothes (Belize is wearing her own creation in the picture!) and sell these to other women in the camp for a profit. Being able to make an income has transformed her life in the camp. She has bought food, shoes and is halfway to being the owner of her own piece of land where she hopes to build her own house one day. Belize also explains how the programme has been essential in giving her the means to look after her health and that of her son’s, help her four brothers with their school fees but also in giving her power to make a living without depending on others generosity.  Furthermore, the sanitary towels have helped fill the gap in menstrual hygiene needs in the camp for herself and other women. She hopes her son will get to study and become a teacher or a doctor.

Belize: Sewing up old wounds

Belize* arrived in Lusenda refugee camp in July 2015, fleeing political unrest and a humanitarian crisis in Burundi. She is only 19 years old has a 2-year-old son which she cares for herself as the father is not around. Having arrived at the camp alone, scared and without any money she is most grateful for having been picked amongst many other extremely vulnerable women to learn tailoring and soap-making skills through the Period Poverty Project. Today she is able to make clothes (Belize is wearing her own creation in the picture!) and sell these to other women in the camp for a profit. Being able to make an income has transformed her life in the camp. She has bought food, shoes and is halfway to being the owner of her own piece of land where she hopes to build her own house one day. Belize also explains how the programme has been essential in giving her the means to look after her health and that of her son’s, help her four brothers with their school fees but also in giving her power to make a living without depending on others generosity.

Furthermore, the sanitary towels have helped fill the gap in menstrual hygiene needs in the camp for herself and other women. She hopes her son will get to study and become a teacher or a doctor.

* The names of interviewees have been changed to protect their identity and privacy.