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Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — the 12th largest country in the world — sits in Central Africa. The DRC’s population of over 64 million makes it the 18th most populous nation in the world.

  • Population: 73,599,000
  • Life Expectancy: 55 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 46%
  • School Enrollment: 61%
  • Land Mass: 905,354 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 67%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 199/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 160

Facts about Democratic Republic of the Congo

Food & Agriculture

The eastern provinces used to be a main source of food for the DRC, but continuous looting of crops by rebels and lack of transportation has severely damaged production.

Economic Development

The civil war from 1996-2003 and recent rebel conflicts have reduced government revenues and national output. As of 2009, the DRC ranks 176 out of 182 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures a population’s general well-being.


The spread of HIV and AIDS is a nationwide threat, especially for the over 2 million internally displaced people who lack information on the topic and access to resources. There are more than 1 million people living with HIV and AIDS, and over 680,000 children who have lost one or both of their parents to the virus.

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Progress in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Supported feeding programs to rehabilitate malnourished children, along with immunization, vitamin A, and deworming campaigns to improve boys and girls' health.

  • Led initiatives which gave children and youth age-appropriate, value-based training on HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness, encouraging them to protect themselves from the disease.

  • Worked with the local health department to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV by enabling pregnant women to participate in HIV testing and providing medical and social support to those that test positive.

  • Partnered with local churches to educate members on HIV and AIDS prevention and how they can provide loving care for those living with the disease.

  • Educated families on ways to practice good hygiene habits, like frequent hand-washing, to prevent disease.

  • Trained parents on how to help children recover from diarrhea through oral re-hydration therapy.

  • Schools now have safe drinking water, protecting kids from water-borne diseases—thanks in part to work in the communities.

  • Worked to establish community coalition groups who look after the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children.

  • Built or improved school classrooms, recreational spaces, and sanitary toilet systems, allowing more girls and boys to attend school in well-equipped, healthy learning environments.

  • More kids are completing their primary education, thanks to support in supplying classroom materials, providing teacher trainings, and encouraging parents to be more involved in their children's education.

  • Through World Vision programs, teens have acquired skills in areas like computers, hygiene, HIV prevention, and education, preparing them to thrive and find fulfilling careers.

  • Provided training for farmers, enabling them to harvest vegetables to sell and to supply food for their families.

  • Increased farmers' knowledge of soil conservation practices and how to use organic fertilizer; now, they are using these skills to produce organic food while helping preserve the environment.

  • Held training sessions on farming skills, including how to sell in local markets, and technical skills to help parents find sustainable ways to provide for their families.

  • Families are participating in small business groups, which are helping them learn how to save and invest for the future.

  • Helped girls and boys participate in children's clubs, Sunday school groups, scouting, and other programs that promote children's rights.

  • World Vision supported youth networks by leading an initiative to advocate against child labor and sent two youth on to participate in international forums about child rights.

  • Helped enable people to more successfully run community-based organizations with training in management skills.

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    World Vision in Democratic Republic of the Congo Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of the DRC to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 14,000 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in the DRC. These efforts include:

    • Enriching the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS. Caring for orphans and vulnerable children affected by this disease, providing community care, educational materials, seeds, and agricultural tools.
    • Improving water and sanitation, developing infrastructure, improving health and education, responding to HIV and AIDS, and improving food security through special shorter-term projects.
    • Helping families affected by civil conflict in eastern DRC with survival items like blankets, soap, and plastic sheeting for temporary shelters.

    World Vision History in Democratic Republic of the Congo

    World Vision work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo dates back to 1958, when it was known as the Belgian Congo and later Zaire. An office was opened in 1984. World Vision began working in the Belgian Congo in 1958 by establishing a Christian home for girls at risk of marrying at a young age. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments in the DRC include:

    • Providing emergency supplies to victims of a volcanic eruption in eastern DRC that caused 61 deaths and left 11,000 homeless.
    • Helping people recover from a 1977-78 drought by providing beans, vegetable seeds, powered milk, and medicines.
    • Feeding the most malnourished children and families—35,000 people in all—during a critical food shortage in 1985.
    • Training mothers on nutrition, hygiene, and preventive health basics, as well as how to care for skin and eye diseases and intestinal parasite problems in the 1990s.
    • Addressing the critical needs of orphans and vulnerable children by providing medical care, education, food, clothing, and shelter in the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)—the 12th largest country in the world—sits in Central Africa. The DRC’s population of over 64 million makes it the 18th most populous nation in the world. Bordered by nine countries, the DRC has access to the Atlantic Ocean through a 25-mile stretch of western coastline.

    Located on the equator, the DRC contains varying terrain and climates. A dense tropical rainforest covers the vast central interior. Rugged mountains in the east meet dry highlands and plateaus in the west and south. A lush river valley runs along the 3,000-mile Congo River.

    Natural resources include cobalt, copper, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, tin, uranium, coal, and timber.

    More than 225 ethnic groups live in the DRC. The four largest tribes—Mongo, Luba, Kongo, and Mangbetu-Azande—make up about 45 percent of the population. Though there are more than 700 local dialects spoken throughout the country, French is the official language and is used as an ethnically neutral way to communicate.

    The majority of the population lives in rural areas, and many laborers work on farms, producing crops like cassava, corn, bananas, and coffee. The Congolese value family structure, and families will often live in the same house or in houses nearby.


    Formerly known as the Belgian Congo, the DRC gained its independence in 1960 after 52 years of colonial rule. In November 1965, Colonel Joseph Mobutu seized power and changed the country’s name to Zaire.

    Civil war and the arrival of refugees from Rwanda and Burundi led to the collapse of Mobutu’s government. After a rebel takeover, the country’s name changed to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997.

    Continuous civil war since 1996 has devastated the country, displacing nearly 1.4 million people and killing more than 5 million. A 2003 peace agreement with rebels lasted only four years before rebels resumed battling the Congolese army. Fighting intensified in 2008 and 2009, displacing more than 250,000 people in a short period of time.

    Prayer Requests for Democratic Republic of the Congo

    • Praise God for the major steps towards peace, and pray that displaced families can return home and resume normal lives.
    • Children to have the opportunity to go to school free from the fear of being abducted and forced to serve as child soldiers.
    • The protection and care of women and children who are vulnerable to violence and abuse.
    • Quick recoveries for people affected by cholera and other sicknesses.