Democratic Republic of Congo

Rich in natural resources, but impaired by violence, the recent history of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been one of civil war and corruption with widespread civilian suffering as the result. Despite its precious mineral wealth, the country is one of the poorest in the world, but it has the potential to be one of the richest in Africa and a driver of African growth - if it could overcome its political instability.

Due to war and conflict, the average age is very young with almost half of the population below the age of 15. Almost 60 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, but the country’s urban areas are growing rapidly. Kinshasa, the third biggest city in Africa after Lagos and Cairo, is the fastest growing African city and will house over 15 million residents by 2025. Three out of four urban citizens live in slum conditions.

As the megacity of Kinshasa is growing, especially in the informal sector, there is an urgent need for action. Accordingly, the Congolese government has cooperated with the local communities to implement PSUP. In PSUP Phase 2 our country team created a set of maps for neighbourhoods in Kinshasa to assess their potential for upgrading. The maps will help to integrate the slums in the citywide urban planning strategy: for instance, enabling provision of new housing or basic infrastructure such as proper roads, toilets and water fountains.

Due to the rapid urbanisation, there is also an urgent need for improved tenure security. To assist with these challenges, the Ministry of Planning, Budget, Public Works and Infrastructure co-financed PSUP Phase 3 with USD 250,000. In addition, the Provincial Government of Kinshasa has included PSUP funding in its investment budget of USD 300,000 per year.

PSUP also focuses on women and youth empowerment. For example, 52 per cent of the population of Matadi, a port city in DRC, are women, but their literacy rate is very low, with more than 90 per cent illiterate. In view of this situation, mothers in Matadi agreed to use part of PSUP’s Community Managed Funds to improve the situation and help vulnerable women in the neighbourhood. The community decided to build a “House for Women”, where women can access education and training courses, among other types of support.

Regarding the youth, many young people in slums have no or few employment opportunities, but instead make whatever arrangements they can in an informal, unregulated, and often expensive, parallel market. PSUP concentrates on reintegration of youth through job opportunities and prospects for young slum dwellers to prevent high risk situations such as drug abuse and crime due to unemployment and lack of opportunities.