Democratic Republic of Congo

CRS in Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) boasts a large population of 77 million people, vast lands and rivers, and abundant mineral resources. Yet after decades of mismanagement, conflict, and resulting humanitarian disasters, the DRC sits second to last (186 of 187 countries) on the UN’s 2014 Human Development Index. Life expectancy is 50 years, mean years of schooling is 3, and gross national income is $444 per person per year. In the DRC’s east, nearly 3 million people remain displaced from their homes due to political and ethnic conflict.

According to the CIA 2013 World Factbook, substandard socio-economic conditions affect about 71% percent of the population living below the poverty line. Conflicts, corruption and diseases attacking staple crops such as cassava, have affected agricultural outputs, which have also been on the decline for decades. 

Health indicators for the under-5 population are similarly bleak. Tuberculosis is one of the five major causes of death among children in the country in addition to malaria, diarrheal diseases, malnutrition and neonatal complications. 

CRS DRC continues to address humanitarian issues in collaboration with church partners, government agencies and other humanitarian actors.


People served: 3,200,958 (FY 2014: 1,591,891 direct; 1,609,067 indirect)

Population: 77,433,744 (2014 est.)

Size: 905,355 sq mi; slightly less than 1/4 the size of the United States

CRS' History in Democratic Republic of Congo

CRS began operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1961 at the invitation of the country's Catholic Episcopal Conference. Since 1993, the agency has maintained a continuous presence due to permanence of the conflicts, in order to provide timely assistance to populations at risk. 

With an initial focus on emergency response programming, CRS expanded to development operations to respond to the growing needs of the population. CRS since introduced innovative humanitarian approaches such as the voucher fair. We continue to use more efficient solutions with technology such as ICT4D for faster emergency response and more efficient monitoring and evaluation systems that provide evidenced-based data for improved programming. Many of the partners that benefited from capacity building from CRS these past 20 years are currently independently run entities.

Today, the DRC is among CRS’s top 12 priority countries, with a FY15 budget of nearly $25 million. CRS DRC currently has over 170 national and 25 international staff operating out of a national office in Kinshasa; four sub-offices in Goma (North Kivu), Bukavu (South Kivu), Kananga (Kasai Occidental), and Lubumbashi (Katanga); and several satellite offices. We count nearly 20 local partner organizations.