On 19 December 2022, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed a new Cooperation Programme investing in the future of Congolese youth and women. Besides projects that accompany students in primary education, vocational training and young people in decent work and entrepreneurship, the programme also focuses on making health care accessible, also financially, and on fighting sexual violence. Furthermore, the promotion of sustainable agriculture, the protection of Congo’s forests and good governance are central in the programme.
Almost half the population in Congo is under 15 years old. 68% is younger than 25. There is enormous potential in that. The cooperation programme aims to give as many Congolese youth as possible every opportunity to get an education, find a good job or start their own business.
Gender equality and women’s rights also remain a priority. Renewed support goes to care centres where women who were victims of sexual violence can safely recover physically and mentally. Extra attention goes to making sexual and reproductive health care accessible and to initiatives that keep girls and young women in school or vocational training for longer.
57 million people – almost two in three Congolese – live in extreme poverty. They have to live on less than 1.20 euro a day. Rising food and energy prices are making it even more difficult for many families to buy enough food or pay for necessary health care. The World Bank estimates that half of Congolese children are malnourished. That is why Belgium is helping to build a better-functioning health insurance system and why vulnerable farming families receive tailor-made advice and assistance to make their farms more environmentally friendly, sustainable and profitable.
Congo plays a key role in the fight against global warming. Forests in the Congo Basin are among the largest carbon stocks in the world. Family farming is one of the main drivers behind deforestation as farmers burn down patches down to develop new fields. The Belgian Development Cooperation is committed to protecting the forest and developing sustainable and more efficient agriculture.
Part of the Cooperation Programme also focuses on improving the functioning of democracy and the rule of law in Congo. Political participation of the Congolese is fostered through support to civil society, and it should become easier for citizens to hold the central, provincial and local authorities accountable.
Cooperation Programme activities are taking place in 9 Congolese provinces: Tshopo, South-Ubangi, Kasai Oriental, Lomami, Haut-Katanga, Lualaba, South-Kivu, Maniema and Kinshasa. The Belgian Development Cooperation has been present for years in most of them. The activities benefit more than 16 million Congolese.
Belgian assistance has produced tangible results over the past decade: 82,000 Congolese youth attended primary school or vocational training. The number of girls and young women in school or training increased by 74%. More than 6 million people obtained access to health care. More than 4,500 victims of sexual violence were helped in care centres. 50,000 smallholder farms made the transition to a more environmentally friendly way of working and saw their revenue increase, sometimes by as much as 80%.
The Cooperation Programme runs from 2023 to 2027 and amounts to EUR 50 million a year.
Press Contact : Guido Couck, Head of Communications – firstname.lastname@example.org, T +32 486 35 00 75