Congo Poverty

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Poverty has worsened in the Republic of Congo since the 1980s and half the country’s people now live below the poverty line. This average, however, masks wide geographic and economic inequalities. Most of the country’s poor people (64.8 per cent) live in rural areas and women are among the hardest hit by poverty. In 2006, more than a third of children under five in rural areas suffered from malnutrition.

Access to water is also poor in rural areas where only 11 per cent of people can get water compared with 75 per cent of people in urban areas. Rural people also have a higher unemployment rate with close to 50 per cent of the economically active rural population being out of work. Young people and vulnerable groups are particularly hard hit.

The country’s turbulent history — a troubled transition from centralized planning under a Marxist government to a market economy, together with economic mismanagement, military coups and brutal civil conflict during the 1990s — have all left their marks. The vital national rail line and adjacent rural roads forming the Congo's economic lifeline were ruined. At the height of the conflict, about one third of the country's people were displaced. The chronic financial crisis became acute and the financial sector came close to collapse. Poverty became deeper in the rural areas of the Congo where poor people are now powerless, vulnerable and isolated. Transportation costs are very high which seriously hampers small producers’ access to markets.

HIV/AIDS affects 5.3 per cent of the population, but affects the 15-49 year age group the most and is an obstacle to reducing poverty in the Congo. An estimated 90,000 adults and children were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2003. The government supports a multi-agency initiative implementing a ten-year programme to assist people living with HIV/AIDS.

Who are the Congo's rural poor people?
Although half the country’s people live below the poverty line, the poorest people are...
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