Congo

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Background


Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the then-Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960, but its early years were marred by political and social instability .Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name - to MOBUTU Sese Seko - as well as that of the country - to Zaire.MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through brutal force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA. He renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe intervened to support KABILA's regime. A cease-fire was signed in July 1999 by the DRC, Congolese armed rebel groups, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe but sporadic fighting continued. Laurent KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and his son, Joseph KABILA, was named head of state. In October 2002, the new president was successful in negotiating the withdrawal of Rwandan forces occupying eastern Congo; two months later, the Pretoria Accord was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity. A transitional government was set up in July 2003. Joseph KABILA as president and four vice presidents represented the former government, former rebel groups, the political opposition, and civil society. The transitional government held a successful constitutional referendum in December 2005 and elections for the presidency, National Assembly, and provincial legislatures in 2006.he National Assembly was installed in September 2006 and KABILA was inaugurated president in December 2006. Provincial assemblies were constituted in early 2007, and elected governors and national senators in January 2007. The most recent national elections were held on 28 November 2011. [1]

Poverty



The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is long known for being the host of constant war. The conflict that has taken place within the country has been ever lasting and has been detrimental to say the least. As is the case within all countries that experience on-going internal militaristic conflict on a consistent basis, not only does the quality of life decrease but the expectancy of it decreases as well. As it relates to the DRC half the population will not live to see the age of 40. In regards to the country’s war causation, the country’s vast resources located in the eastern part of the country are tremendous financial assets to whoever is in control of them and hence various militias throughout the country fight over the right to control them. DRC’s mineral resources include cassiterite (tin ore), god and coltan. 1/3 of the world’s estimated reserves of Coltan, which is used to make electronic components, are in DRC. The country also has 49% of the world’s supplies of cobalt. Nearly 75% of the DRC population live below the poverty line-and earns a dismal $1 a day in wage. More than half the population (57%) had no access to drinking water or to basic healthcare (54%), while three out of every 10 children were poorly nourished if indeed they were nourished at all. There is an astounding 47% chance that a Congolese would die before his or her 40th birthday. In a globalized spectrum, the DRC ranked 177th out of 179 countries in the UN’s 2012 Human development report. Furthermore, nearly 6 million people have died form conflict, hunger and disease since 1998 when civil war broke out between existing government and rebel forces. Clearly, war and the debilitating aftermath of it have done considerable destruction to the Congolese community. Due to insecurity within the country, women and children have suffered painful experiences and lifestyles living within the Congo as well. Congo's Gini Index, as of 2006, was .44. [2] STD spread is rampant within the country and it is due to sexual and gender based crimes that are committed in attempt to destroy and taint generations of people. In the Congolese culture, as well as other cultures internationally when the women of a certain race or creed are raped they become tainted and undesired by their native men consequently stunting reproduction rates because the thought of having children and starting families with tainted women are deemed simply out of the question by natives. Due to the rampant spread of rape, HIV/AIDS and other STDs are transmitted at alarming rates and is single-handedly killing the Congolese people at heightening rates. All in all, there are a number of factors that are playing a pivotal role in the alarming rates that exist within the Congo, however, not one is as disturbing as the fact that nearly 75% of the population is impoverished. [3] [4]


The Importance of and the Congolese Dependence on the Congo River



Although the poverty within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is well publicized what is not, are some of the reasons for why it exists. The Congo like the majority of third world countries throughout the world is extremely under-developed. Evidence of this can be seen with the study of the featured river within the country, The Congo River. Primarily used for transportation this river is essential to the logistical operations of the countrymen and women within the country. Here in America, our public transportation consists of three major methods by bus, train or subway. Contrarily, in the DRC there really is only one method of public transportation The Congo River. What is mind-blowing is the quality of the transportation the Congolese subject themselves to. Similar to the methods in which slaves were transported from Africa to America via the East Indian Trading Co. and other companies people are often subject to forced to sit or lay side by side packed together similar to the way in which sardines are tightly packed together within the jars in which they are sold in. To make matters worse, people are transported with the cargo, goods and even animals in which people have brought with them along the journey. Consequently, the exposure to animals such as monkeys, goats, eagles and chickens leads to rampant spread of disease and malnutrition such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia among the Congolese travelers. The destination in question is Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many on board are transporting goods for sale; others are heading to the capital to pick up goods to bring back to Congo’s remote interior whereas other are simply utilizing the river for simple travel downstream. As what often happens when a large group of people are forced into intimate levels of interaction without native relation often times confrontation ensues and even worse, physical altercation. The Congo River is the 5th largest river in the world and is the 2nd biggest river on the continent only to the Nile River. The river stretches nearly 3,000 miles and serves as the lifeline for the Congolese people. The survival of the Congolese relies heavily upon the utilization of this river. Extreme dependence on one source of anything is detrimental to societal expansion. The willingness to spend weeks at a time and deal with immense rebel activity all for the sake of trade speaks to the extreme dependence the Congolese have on the Congo River. Although the river is one of the greatest resources available to the Congolese the only way they will experience an alleviation of poverty is to find other way to utilize it specifically with regards to transportation-the way in which they are currently utilizing it as aforementioned is simply not good enough. [5] [6]


Deforestation in the Congo



The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) rainforests are some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Due to widespread civil strife, clearing subsistence & commercial logging are the main reasons, for the devastation via deforestation of the rainforests within the Congo. Not only has the rainforest experienced inconvenience but forest dwellers have felt the negative effects of deforestation as well. Since the 1980s, Africa has experienced the highest deforestation rates of any region on the globe. Logging is a significant deal in and around the Congo due to the return of peace in and around the area. Since 2004, the Congo announced its plan to step up the commercial logging of its rainforests. The World Bank, which is in a tremendous position of influence, was the main contributor of advice to the Congo in the notion of commercialization by way of logging in the Congolese region. The timber industry is a major employer in the Congo and thousands of workers heavily rely on logging companies for basic healthcare and other services which would explain why so many Congolese are for the commercialization process that is taking place in the Congo and could careless about the reality that once these forests are cut down there are gone forever due to the fact that they are being blinding by employment and healthcare a clever blinding mechanism being implemented on the part of logging companies. However, illegal logging has presented a big problem because underpaid bureaucrats who look to financially get ahead are opening restricted area to cutting and it is consequently leading to the possible extinction of the DRC’s rainforests. Since the end of the war in the DRC, concessions have been granted at heightened rates and as a result the pace of logging in Africa’s largest remaining rain forests is picking up at accelerated rates. Also, most of the deforestation in the DRC is being caused by local substinence activities by farmers and villagers who heavily rely on forestlands for agriculture and fuel wood collection. Slash-and-burn is commonly used for clearing forest on the part of villagers and farmers who clear the rainforest areas to dismay of scientists and government officials. Although the method is most effective, it is extremely dangerous and possesses great potential for mass destruction in the notion of forest fire which Californians deal with every now and then here in America. Another reason for the accelerated of deforestation and perhaps the most understandable one rests in the idea of civilians following the logging paths left by commercialized constructors because of past strife and conflict which had driven central Africans deep into the rainforest to escape the widespread violence in hopes of survival. [7] [8]

  1. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cg.html
  2. http://www.causeofdeathwoman.com/dr-congo
  3. http://povertynewsblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/alarming-levels-of-opverty-in-congo-un.html
  4. http://www.divinecaroline.com/22353/52083-rape-poverty-war-congo
  5. http://www.npr.org/2011/06/01/129176374/river-of-life-congo-odyssey
  6. http://library.thinkquest.org/16645/the_land/congo_river.shtml
  7. http://rainforests.mongabay.com/congo/deforestation.html
  8. http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/congo_basin_forests/problems/deforestation/
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