The Democratic Republic of Congo ranks lowest in the 2011 Human Development Index. An estimated 60 percent of the 68 million Congolese live on less than $1.25 per day and only 61 percent of children aged six to 11 regularly attend primary school. Basic social services remain scarce: 70 percent of the population in rural areas does not have access to drinking water and almost 30 percent of children under the age of 5 are malnourished.
Public sector corruption and political and security tensions continue to hamper DRC’s export-driven and mineral-rich economy. The DRC has suffered from a protracted violent conflict that has spilled over the country’s borders, sparking tension with neighboring states Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. The country currently hosts the world’s second-largest U.N.-funded peacekeeping mission. Sexual and gender-based violence is prevalent, making DRC one of the world’s most dangerous places for women.
For the past seven years, the United Kingdom has been the third-largest bilateral donor to DRC. The Department for International Development’s aid volume is scheduled to rise by 94 percent from 2010 to 2015 — the fourth-largest increase of U.K. aid globally. DfID’s engagement combines long-term and short-term interventions by supporting humanitarian relief in response to the country’s ongoing conflict, and simultaneously investing in business and trade facilitation, reproductive health, and democratic accountability.