Republic of the Congo
The Republic of Congo is currently in a fragile period of peace, after years of instability and political violence that affected the country from 1997-1999. Peace remains precarious. Fighting for oil income and the absence of a structured civil society with true freedom of expression contribute to this fragility. The country has large oil reserves that account for more 70 percent of the country's GDP with agriculture ranked second at about 21 percent. However, despite this wealth, approximately 70 percent of the country's population lives under the poverty threshold and the unemployment rate is estimated at 50 percent.
After a long interruption, the local Catholic Conference of Bishops decided to reinforce its national Caritas team, enabling it to coordinate and strengthen diocesan Caritas partners. An internal assessment revealed that significant capacity building was needed to achieve this end. Catholic Relief Services' work in the country aims to contribute to this goal by reinforcing Caritas Congo's institutional and programming ability.
|Population:||4,366,266 (July 2012 est.)|
|Size:||132,047 sq mi; slightly smaller than Montana|
|People Served:||600 (2012 est.)|
Catholic Relief Services began its program in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) in 1997 at the invitation of the country's Catholic Bishop's Conference with a specific aim to provide emergency assistance during the last years of a long civil war.
The consequences of the civil war (1997-1998) are still evident. A large part of the country's infrastructure (health, education, etc.) was destroyed and the levels of poverty and emergency needs of the population increased. Poor governance and leadership established after the war worsened the people's vulnerability. Problems include lack of housing, trauma, mourning the loss of family members as well as basic necessities, and deep divisions in the social fabric of the country.
Although the country is the fourth largest exporter of oil in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Republic of Congo was ranked 126th of 169 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index.
The local Catholic Church recognized the importance of its role in both the response to the emergency situation created by the war and the reconciliation of a deeply traumatized and divided society. The Church's role is:
- To provide assistance in the form of basic necessities to displaced and vulnerable families.
- To prevent the resurgence of violence.
- To help heal the physical and psychological wounds of the war.
- To help fill people's aspirations through the reconciliation process.
- To encourage Christians to engage in social justice.
PartnersCaritas Congo Brazzaville