DRC: 'Ketudi Byakudya' - We don't have enough food

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

At the end of 2005 militia attacks and government military operations caused large population displacement in the province of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Among them, 16,000 people are temporarily residing in three camps in Dubie, a town in Katanga Province.

MSF has been working in Katanga since 1988, supporting hospitals, fixed and mobile clinics in many locations, including Dubie since 1996.

Due to decreasing food security in Dubie, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) conducted a nutrition and mortality survey among 563 households. In order to explore the issues from the perspective of the population further, the survey was complemented with 15 household interviews. Data from the World Food Programme (WFP) food distributions was also reviewed.

The mortality rates over a 90-day recall period (since Christmas 2005) were: Crude Mortality Rate (CMR): 4.3/10,000/day (CI 3.5-5.3) Under-Five Mortality Rate (U5MR): 12.7/10,000/day (CI 10.1-16.3)

This is above the emergency threshold of CMR > 1 and U5MR > 2 and therefore indicates a catastrophic situation.

The prevalence of global acute malnutrition (< -2 z-score and/or presence of oedema), was 19.2% (CI 15.7-23.3%) and of severe acute malnutrition (< -3 z-score and/or presence of oedema) was 5.0% (CI 3.2-7.6%). A global malnutrition of 10-15% indicates a crisis in food security.

Discussions with people in the camps underline the on-going lack of food, with sporadic and limited food distributions compounded by limited working opportunities within Dubie and restrictions on movements. There is neither enough food in Dubie nor adequate access to any food that might be found outside Dubie.

WFP distributions have not only been untimely but insufficient - and significantly less than their own recommended daily intake of 2,100 kcal/person/day. In WFP's December/January distribution to the IDPs of Dubie, only 9.9 days of food were given. The next distribution of 1,050 kcal/person/day for one month started on 27th March - some seven weeks after the first distribution. At present, there are no plans being made to change this situation - despite the obvious food insecurity, growing levels of malnutrition and catastrophic mortality rates in Dubie.

MSF first reported on the situation in Katanga in December 2005, going as far as briefing the UN Security Council. Since then, little has changed on the ground. WFP, the United Nations and donors have neglected both Dubie's displaced and host populations for too long. Immediate assistance is critical.