Food & Daily life

Returning to normal life

Because of the long-running insecurity in the country, daily life is a struggle for many Congolese. Over half the population lives below the poverty line (surviving on less than a dollar a day).

Instability in the east

Operations are ongoing against armed groups in the east, who continue to cause civilians to flee their homes. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, over 1.5 million people were displaced in the DR Congo at the start of 2012.

Nearly two-thirds of people live in rural areas, in villages scattered across the country. Many rely on subsistence farming, growing food for their families and selling some crops for cash – see Climate & Agriculture.

Certain indigenous peoples, such as the ‘pygmy’ Mbuti and Efe groups, still live a nomadic lifestyle in the forests, hunting wild animals, fishing and gathering plants, fruits and fungi. These groups also trade with local farmers on the edges of the forest.

Farming in peace

During any fighting, fields and rivers became dangerous places. But with stability returning across many areas, villagers hope to fish and farm in peace.

  • Cassava
  • Plantain

Local wine

Palm trees are grown in some parts and their fermented sap is used to make palm wine.

The staple food in DR Congo is cassava. This root vegetable is often ground into a paste and served with plantains, fish or bushmeat. Grubs and caterpillars are also collected to provide protein.

Nuts and fruit are widely grown, oranges and bananas the most commonly available.

Vulnerability of women and children

Child soldiers

Since 2004, over 33,000 former child soldiers have been demobilized across the DR Congo, with the assistance of organisations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Sometimes, the children are returning to areas where conflict is still ongoing and face the danger of being taken as recruits once more by armed groups.

However, for some, it will take many years before life returns to normal. Millions of Congolese have been caught up in the conflicts of the last two decades.

Even now, humanitarian groups are working to reunite families and bring former child soldiers back to their homes and communities.

Women continue to remain vulnerable. Peace deals have led to the end of much fighting, but years of war have left a culture of violence. Rape is still common. Mass attacks on women are used to intimidate local populations into handing over resources, such as gold or tin from local mines.

Statistics are difficult to gather because of the remoteness of many villages, but the United Nations estimates at least 15,000 rapes occurred in 2009.