The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is exposed to a number of hazards including volcanic and limnic eruptions, earthquakes, flooding, and drought. Vulnerability to these hazards is exacerbated by poverty and political insecurity. Since 1997 countless millions of people have been plunged into acute vulnerability due to displacement, loss of economic livelihoods, and a destroyed social fabric.
Two volcanoes of the Virunga volcanic chain are among the most active volcanoes in the world and pose a direct threat to more than one million inhabitants in the city of Goma and surroundings areas. In 2002, a volcanic eruption covered 13 percent of the city’s surface area and destroyed 80 percent of the local economy.
The DRC also experiences extreme weather and climate variability, resulting in high exposure to floods and droughts. The impacts of climate change are projected to increase both the frequency and severity of these events.
The Government of the DRC is currently working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop the country’s first disaster risk reduction policy. The country’s latest Poverty Reduction Strategy (2013) includes climate adaptation as one of its core pillars and disaster risk management (DRM) considerations. However, there is no tracking of the government’s budget for disaster risk reduction.
To further advance the DRM agenda, priorities include:
- Improving capacity to monitor and forecast hazards and transfer improved knowledge into decision making and planning;
- Strengthening early warning systems and contingency planning; and,
- Strengthening institutional capacity for DRM.
GFDRR’s engagement in the DRC began at a regional level in 2014. Ongoing regional projects are focused on strengthening the DRM capacity of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). To date, activities have included supporting ECCAS to coordinate training in the DRC. The training included a review of national DRM policies and identifying national DRM expertise and capacity building needs. This engagement helped the government to strengthen risk identification and preparedness in the Goma region and improve hydromet services as key DRM priorities.
At a country level, GFDRR’s ongoing efforts are helping the Government of DRC advance DRM by:
- Strengthening institutional capacity to better manage natural disaster risk, particularly those related to volcanic activities, in the region of Goma through improved risk assessment, contingency planning, and community preparedness; and,
- Improving the quality of hydromet services through modernized observation and forecasting infrastructure, better information service delivery, and stronger institutional and regulatory capacity.
Both of these engagements are in the early stages, and GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the Government of DRC in these areas.