A Internally Displaced Congolese child sits on the ground at a camp for IDP JOHN WESSELS/AFP/Getty Images

A Better Future for the Congo

Trapped in a cycle of political uncertainty, economic recession, and escalating violence, humanitarian disaster has become a way of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Boosting productivity and creating jobs for an overwhelmingly young population are essential to put the country on a different, more hopeful path.

LONDON – The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has become synonymous with state failure. No country has endured more brutal conflicts, hosted more kleptocratic and corrupt governments, or squandered more resource wealth. Trapped in a cycle of political uncertainty, economic recession, and escalating violence, humanitarian disaster has become a way of life. Yet a better future is possible.

At the ramshackle Rubaya primary school, in a small town in the lush green hills of North Kivu province, bordering Rwanda, one gets a glimpse of that possibility. Children sit attentively in overcrowded classrooms, with enthusiasm, ambition, and hope lighting up their faces. Dorothy Gakoti, aged 13, wants to become a nurse. “If I succeed in school, I can have a better life with more opportunity – and I can help my family and community,” she declares.

Yet the DRC – including North Kivu – remains beset with challenges. Dozens of ethnically based armed groups called Mai-Mai prey on local populations. Sexual violence, often targeting young girls, is as endemic as it is under-reported. Some 4.5 million children are malnourished, almost half of them severely. Less than half of the children who contract potentially deadly diseases like pneumonia and malaria receive treatment.

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