Since 1963, UNICEF has worked alongside the government of Democratic Republic of the Congo to promote the survival and development of children.
Find out how UNICEF work to drive change for children and young people’s rights in the DRC.
Battling Ebola in the DRC
Since August 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been battling an Ebola outbreak – making it the tenth outbreak in the country since 1976.
Children represent a large number among the confirmed cases of Ebola in this outbreak throughout the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, and so UNICEF’s work has become all the more vital.
Response has been particularly more challenging due to intense armed conflict and insecurity, however, UNICEF work tirelessly to help fight the spread of this deadly disease and reintegrate children that have been left behind. UNICEF has identified more than 400 children who have been orphaned or left unaccompanied as a result of the outbreak.
Children who lose a parent due to Ebola are at risk of being stigmatized and isolated socially, alongside experiencing the grief of losing a loved one. Their wellbeing is our priority, alongside reducing the infection.
To make sure that all children are reached, we focus our efforts in improving water and sanitation, immunisation, nutrition and maternal care to improve the lives of young people in the most remote of areas.
We also focus our efforts in holistic psycho-social support and education to create a protective environment for young people.
UNICEF’s Efforts to Reduce Child Mortality
Despite significant progress, too many children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) die before the age of five due to preventable or treatable diseases such as neonatal complications, pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea.
We believe that every child deserves an equal chance to survive and thrive, reaching adulthood safely. For this reason, UNICEF are committed to reaching the most remote areas and vulnerable children through immunisation and improved maternal care efforts:
UNICEF is working with partners to vaccinate children against the six major diseases against which there is a vaccine: poliomyelitis, the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus, control of measles, the elimination of new HIV infections through the mother-to-child transmission and the All-in! to end adolescent Aids initiative.
There also exists an Ebola vaccine against the current strain in the DRC. UNICEF’s role is to inform communities of the vaccine and ways to prevent the disease. Vaccines are given for free and on a voluntary basis to health workers, and to persons who have been in contact with infected persons and their contacts.
Working with multidisciplinary teams including anthropologists, UNICEF ensure that prevention and treatment efforts for Ebola are sensitive to cultural beliefs and practices, particularly around caring for sick and deceased individuals, and addressing populations’ concerns about secure and dignified burials.
Improved Maternal Care
As part of fighting the spread of Ebola, UNICEF plays a role in reducing child mortality and improving the care of mothers. Too many mothers, new-borns and adolescents are at risk due to preventable or treatable diseases such as neonatal complications, pneumonia, malaria and diarrhoea.
We believe that healthy children become healthy adults, improving their living conditions, as well as those of their communities and their country.
The UNICEF Child Survival Programme aims to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortalities by improving the delivery of newborn care, in conjunction with fighting preventable diseases that are accountable for child deaths.
In the country, nearly one out of every two children under five suffers from chronic malnutrition or stunted growth, which affects their brain development, reduces their IQ, and weakens their immune system. In 2017, food security and nutrition levels sharply deteriorated, with one in ten children becoming severely malnourished and in danger of death.
During the first 1,000 days of childhood, from the time of pregnancy on the second birthday of the young child, children should benefit from direct nutrition interventions in terms of adequate food intake, good care, health, nutrition and hygiene.
UNICEF supports the provision of nutrition services in pre-school consultations, the organization and revitalization of the community around nutrition activities, the organization of child health and nutrition days, and the provision of health centre services for severe acute malnutrition.
Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
There is great potential for the DRC and improved sanitation, as the country contains over 50% of the African continent’s water reserves. Despite sustained efforts however, only 52% of the population has access to an improved water source.
We make it our mission at UNICEF to improving water quality in the DRC and ensure that every child has access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities in schools and communities.
In the realm of emergencies, UNICEF supports the fight against cholera and Ebola by increasing access to safe drinking water, ensuring the availability of water treatment products and rehabilitating and redeveloping water points. of water. Emergency interventions are carried out for displaced persons and host communities.
Through the national program “Healthy School and Village” for example, UNICEF works to prevent diarrheal and other waterborne diseases. Having made significant progress, over 7 million people and nearly 1 million schoolchildren have benefited from improved water and sanitation, and since 2018, health centres have been integrated into the program.
Giving Children Opportunities For a Better Education
We believe that every child has the right to an education, no matter the circumstances that they are born into.
Education offers children a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future. But, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) nearly 7 million children aged 5 to 17 are out of school.
The Ebola outbreak has meant that basic services such as education are far harder to access, with the impact of the disease overturning the daily lives of communities – affecting all from parents, caregivers to teachers.
UNICEF is helping to fight the spread of this deadly disease and educate people on how to prevent contamination. Our work is vital in teaching young people on how to raise awareness about Ebola and help keep their environment free from disease.
We pledge to allow children affected by extreme poverty to have access to quality primary education, as UNICEF believe these first stages are crucial in creating a better tomorrow.
Support UNICEF in the DRC
By donating to UNICEF, we can work together to improve the chances of a child’s survival in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and give them the childhood they deserve.
Help us to continue our work by donating to UNICEF here.