Alarming rate of malnutrition amongst displaced in Katanga, DRC

Over the past week MSF has conducted a nutritional survey in three camps for displaced Congolese around the town of Dubie close to Lake Mweru, in the province of Katanga. The results are staggering. The prevalence of global malnutrition was 19,2% and of severe acute malnutrition was 5%. A global malnutrition of 10% to 15% indicates a crisis in food security.

Download the report Food, Nutrition and Mortality Situation of IDPs in Dubie, Katanga, March 2006

In the discussions with the population of the camps it became clear that there is neither enough food in Dubie nor adequate access to any food that might be found outside the village. Most people only manage to have one meal a day at the most, usually only consisting of cassava leaves or dried cassava skins.

Together with the survey MSF also conducted a retrospective mortality survey among 563 households.

"Because of our medical interventions we've managed to get the mortality rates down from the initial catastrophic levels," says Séverine Equiluz, Head of Mission of MSF in Lubumbashi, DRC. "But the ongoing lack of food has now created this nutritional crisis. For months now we have asked for more food assistance to come to the region and apart from one small food convoy nothing has happened, that's unacceptable."

The 16,000 displaced Congolese that live in three camps around Dubie are not the only group that fled. Some 90,000 have fled in the past months for the ongoing fighting between the Congolese army and MaiMai rebels. The displaced have mostly gathered around the villages of Pweto, Mitwaba, Kilwa and around the shores of Lake Upemba, where MSF delivers medical assistance.

"Most of the displaced are already on the run for months if not years. Constantly having to flee for ongoing violence and insecurity. Particularly the last three months the situation deteriorated," said Michiel Hofman, Operational Director of MSF.

"Since late 2005 we have continuously informed everyone and anyone on this situation, all the way up to the level of the United Nations Security Council, and the reaction has been basically nil, leaving these people without practically any assistance."

"With the upcoming elections in the D.R. Congo and the increased focus on rehabilitation and reconstruction by international donors, the current humanitarian crisis in Katanga is being ignored."

MSF works in Katanga since 1988. Currently it has over 50 international and almost 1,000 national staff working in the various projects in the province.