The critical environmental and sustainability issues of The Democratic Republic of the Congo:
- Water Crisis
The rate of drinking water in the country is insufficient. Only 40.7% of the urban population and 14.5% of rural dwellers have access to drinking water in 2000 due to lack of modern structures. According to ECOM 2005, 10% of households take at least an hour to access to a source of drinking water. Usually, women and children perform this task.
The Congo produces several types of waste: banal industrial waste, special industrial waste, household waste and biomedical waste. In Congo, approximately 70% of waste produced are biodegradable and 30% divided between the industrial and hospital waste. Indeed, waste gives another form to the city of Brazzaville. In most areas especially near markets and schools, garbage is thrown in the streets, streams, ditches, abandoned and unoccupied places; especially as waste management is not assured by the municipality and the pickups are occasional, often at the request of the city dweller. In 2006, more than 85% of the population did not have access to adequate garbage collection services.
The Congo has huge potential of hydropower, natural gas and oil, however, the population’s access to energy in many forms (electricity, oil and gas) is very low. According to the results of ECOM, in urban areas, the most used lighting mode is the oil lamp (70.1%), followed by electricity (27%). In rural areas, the main lighting mode is the oil lamp at 97%. Regarding the fuel used for cooking food, it appears that 70% of the poor use firewood against 44.1% of middle-class. In Brazzaville, the two categories represent 36.3% and 17.4%, respectively.
The DRC has a population of approximately 77 million people out of which 80 percent live in extreme poverty. Poverty is a byproduct of political conflict during the 1990s, i.e. the DRC’s involvement in the African War. War-torn communities have left approximately 4 million children as orphans or homeless. One of the main causes of poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is health threats, specifically a malaria outbreak, which resulted in approximately 6.7 million cases nationwide in 2009. The country remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked at 176 out of 187 countries per the United Nations’ 2015 Human Development Index.
During the civil war in the DRC, from 1998 to 2003, more than 5.2 million children did not receive an education. In 2012, it was reported that approximately 62.92 percent of female youth aged 15 years and older were literate compared to an 87.91 percent literacy rate for young males. About 30 to 40 percent of children in the armed groups are girls. Girls are often lured into joining local militias because of enticing factors like wages.