Democratic Republic of the Congo A country in deep crisis
On paper, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is a wealthy country. It has an abundance of valuable natural resources, large reserves of freshwater and huge tropical rainforests. However, many decades of exploitation under colonial rule, followed by years of dictatorship and then armed conflicts have reduced the country to abject poverty.
In social and humanitarian terms, the country is in a dire state. On the latest United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) DR Congo is ranked 175th out of the 189 countries listed.
After being repeatedly unlawfully postponed, presidential elections eventually took place in December 2018. The opposition politician Felix Tshisekedi was declared the unexpected winner. Doubts regarding the legitimacy of the result were expressed both at home and abroad. Whether the new head of state will manage to steer the country out of the deep political crisis it is facing and into more peaceful waters remains to be seen. The need for reform is huge.
This Central African country plays an important geostrategic role; its political, economic and social development has a considerable impact on the situation in its nine neighbouring countries. And the conservation of its rainforests is of vital importance for the global climate.
Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been engaged in development cooperation for many years. Government negotiations on development cooperation were due to be held in 2017. However, in response to the delaying of the elections and the ensuing political crisis, the negotiations were postponed indefinitely.
Since then the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has been concentrating on development activities that do not involve direct cooperation with the government of the DR Congo. Instead of working with central government bodies, the focus is on cooperation at the provincial and municipal levels, and with civil society organisations.
German activities in the country centre on ways to immediately improve the everyday lives of the population, on fostering peace in the conflict-ridden region of Eastern Congo and on protecting the country's tropical forests.
German development cooperation with the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Due to the current crisis and the urgent reforms that still need to be undertaken, government negotiations between Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been suspended for the time being. Ongoing development cooperation has been restricted to activities that benefit the population directly.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) focuses on working with decision-makers at the local level and with Congolese civil society.
The main focus of German activities is on the following priority areas:
- Drinking water supply
- Protection and sustainable use of natural resources
- Peace and security in Eastern Congo
- Sustainable economic development in the mining sector
The DR Congo is also receiving assistance through several regional projects that Germany is funding as part of its development cooperation activities in Africa. For instance, Germany supports transboundary bodies such as the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS) and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).