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.
Stories from our work
* The names of interviewees have been changed to protect their identity and privacy.