Critical food pipeline shortfall in eastern DRC

WFP Deputy Executive Operations Director from Rome visits a World Vision food distribution in Mugunga, amidst WFP critical food pipeline shortfall


Goma - In mid-December, Mr. Ramiro Lopes Da Silva, World Food Program (WFP) Global Deputy Executive Director based in Rome accompanied by Mrs. Silvia Caruso, Deputy Country Director for WFP-DRC, visited a food distribution conducted by World Vision in Mugunga 1, an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Goma, Eastern DRC.  A World Vision team led by its Zonal Director Mr. James Chifwelu guided the visit through which the high level WFP delegation met the IDP camp committee to discuss food related issues in the camp and the possibility of IDP return to their original homes.


“This is an opportunity for the IDPs to directly engage with WFP and have food scarcity problems clarified as they have gone for the whole month of November without receiving food assistance. It’s also great the WFP has chosen to visit a World Vision distribution site among its partners here,” said James Chifwelu.


Since October 2013, the FARDC with support of UN Rapid Intervention Forces defeated the M23 rebels in Rutshuru, and liberated many villages in that territory. The Congolese Government has since begun re-establishing local government institutions in the area.


However, vast areas of Masisi and Beni territories of North Kivu, from where about 60% of the currently internally displaced persons sheltering around Goma fled from, are still under the occupation of different armed militias.


“We are prepared to voluntarily return home to areas currently liberated but our homes are damaged, our fields have not been cultivated, and basic services are not readily available. We’ll surely need your assistance even back home,” said Gervais, 56, from Masisi territory, living in the camp with his wife and ten children.  


“As World Vision and WFP have been working with us in this camp, they know our problems and needs. Just as they have supported us here in Mugunga 1, we appeal to them to accompany us when we are returning to those areas already liberated with a good package that will help us re-integrate,” said Mahoro Faustin, IDP Camp President.


Continued support 

Mr. Ramiro assured the IDPs of WFP and other aid organizations continued support even after their return home. He also expressed his wish if programming could transition from emergency to more long term sustainable development.


“We wish we could even leave the country as a sign of total success and ownership of the programs by Congolese people. My wish is that I can visit some of you in your villages of origin and share food that you would have produced yourselves!” 


“Some can grow food while others do petty trade. I remembered I could produce up to five bags of beans in only six months! Our lands in Masisi are very fertile and all that we desire is peace. We beg our Government and you to make this possible,” said Faida, 37, who is living in the camp with her five children.


IDP women have reported that they are exposed to sexual violence when there is no food in the camps and they try to scout in the surrounding forest in search of wild food.


The WFP Eastern Regional Office announced on 13th December 2013 the suspension of food assistance to about 730,000 IDPs of which 135,000 are assisted through World Vision. This suspension covers the period from January to March 2014 and aims to adjust the beneficiaries’ profiles.


This recent announcement by WFP will have significant impact on the displaced population.


During the visit, Mr. Ramiro was briefed and escorted through the various steps of the food distribution process by James W. Bedell, Eastern Zone Food Resources team Leader.


“World Vision is one of our biggest partners around the world. After many years of partnership we have established a relation of trust. They really understand us quite well, and that makes it easier to work even in tough situations,” said Mr. Ramiro Lopes Da Silva.


In North Kivu, World Vision is currently distributing food to more than 135,000 persons in the IDPs camps of Mugunga, Bulengo, Buhimba and Lac vert, all located about 10 km to Goma town.