Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Country Focus: Democratic Republic of Congo

This month, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are holding general elections for only the second time in around forty years. This huge country, around two thirds the size of western Europe, has been in the news for many reasons in recent years - mainly as a result of the conflict and civil war. It borders with several other countries, including Rwanda. Much of the tensions, fighting and genocide in this country have spilled over into the DRC, making increasing and contributing to their problems. The country's significant mineral resources have contributed to this conflict - with groups of militia fighting for control over resources such as diamonds, coltan, copper and gold. 

The inability of the government to establish law and order and fight corruption means they have not harnessed the wealth of the country's vast resources for the benefit of the nation - improving healthcare, education and infrastructure. This has contributed to the country having a life expectancy more than 20 years below the world's average, infant mortality more than two and half times greater than the rest of the world and an adult literacy rate well above the global average.

Source: Cai Tjeenk Willink
Adding to the problems of the country are the natural hazards that the country face. In 2002, for example, a volcanic eruption close to the town of Goma killed dozens of people and associated earthquakes caused further damage. Floods, droughts and landslides are also relevant hazards.

The BBC News have a very helpful article discussing the DRC on their website. One quote within the article that stands out particularly, and which is worth reflecting on:
"While DR Congo is clearly a failed state, Congolese society has not failed. On the contrary it is strong, vibrant, dynamic, tolerant and generous. People have a sense of taking charge of their own destinies."