The presidential and parliamentary elections taking place on Monday, November 28 hold special importance for the future of the country. According to CENCO, the Congo’s Catholic Episcopal Conference, the upcoming ballot needs to “build a truly democratic Congo, one that lives peacefully and that puts in place good governance systems, thus promoting new development perspectives for its people.”
Congolese bishops have called on the international community to provide support to ensure fair elections and promote civic training. They have requested logistical support and the deployment of international observers.
The response from large international donor agencies has been mixed. For its part, Development and Peace supports three projects to that effect in the DRC:
- CEJP, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, has received a $210,000 grant through its national civic education program for peer training, radio broadcasts and the dissemination of brochures, posters and comic strips.
- Seven community radio stations in the Orientale and Katanga provinces are providing civic education through educational programs, debates, serials and songs. ($200,000 grant)
- Twenty organizations, including the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace in Kalemie and Isangi, the the Regional NGO Development Council of Katanga, and the Kinsangani Women’s Collective, are engaged in promoting human rights, peace, good governance and citizen participation through local assemblies, facilitation sessions and publications. ($80,000 grant)
A country of vast wealth and abject poverty
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
The Congolese often remark that their country is a true geological scandal, given that, more than any other country on earth, it holds vast quantities of highly valuable minerals. The country’s soil overflows with zinc, gold, uranium and diamonds, as well as with minerals essential to the new technologies, such as coltan and cassiterite. Others types are found too, perhaps not as well-known, but just as strategic, such as cobalt, germanium and niobium.
Here also lies the second largest forest on earth. Water and fertile lands abound throughout the country. It is said that, thanks to its hydroelectric potential, the DRC could electrify the whole of the African continent.
Yet, the country has just been ranked dead last (187th out of 187) on the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). It turns out that despite the country’s enormous wealth, the Congolese people experience the worst forms of poverty.