Number of acutely food insecure people in Democratic Republic of Congo now more than Australian population

ByCARE Australia May 21, 2021 0 comments

As the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conflict enters its 20th year, CARE warns that if immediate funding and support is not provided, millions could face starvation.


Kinshasa, 20 May, 2021 — Nearly 7 million people in the DRC are now one step away from famine levels of food insecurity, while 27.3 million are facing acute levels of hunger or higher, which is more than the total population of Australia of 25.7 million people. 

As the world is facing an unprecedented food crisis, the DRC is the country with the highest number of people facing acute food insecurity. CARE is calling for an additional US $20 million in order to help prevent famine, and stop people suffering from severe hunger.

According to CARE DRC Country Director Aline Ouedraogo: “There are a staggering number of people going hungry across the DRC. The country is now experiencing the largest food crisis in the world. 

“This situation is, and should have been, preventable. Millions of people dying from hunger could be avoided if more funding and support is provided. As the crisis and the number of people increases, the amount of funding declines. This current crisis is the result of underfunding and a combination of different stressors over the last 5 years. We did not arrive here overnight.”  

The DRC humanitarian response plan is one of the least funded in the world, with funding dropping consecutively over the last 4 years, while at the same time the need has increased. The 2021 plan is currently only 10.7% funded with less than 6% of the food support provided. The 2020 appeal reached only 39% funding by the end of the year, and within that, only 33% of food support needs were funded.

A combination of continuing and multiple conflicts, poor governance and a lack of access to basic services, recurrent epidemics – including COVID-19 and Ebola – and economic crisis due to political instability, means the DRC is currently in one of the worst situations it has ever been.  

In the DRC, established gender norms limit women’s access to resources, including land ownership, money and savings, and decision-making power. These inequalities make it even more difficult for women and girls to cope with food insecurity and put them at greater risk of life-threatening hunger.

Ouedraogo adds: “We know that women and girls are also facing the brunt of this hunger crisis. Women we work with in South Kivu, Kasai Oriental and North Kivu are telling us their food stocks have run out forcing them into debt as they buy food on credit or loans. They already fear exposing their children to labour in the mines, prostitution, illegal petty trade in the towns and cities and other harmful risks. We also know that during times of lack of food cases of domestic and sexual violence increase as tensions rise as people struggle to provide for their families. And women and young girls can be pushed into transactional sex and other negative coping mechanisms.”

CARE Australia CEO Peter Walton says: “Millions of people are facing famines that will eclipse those in modern memory. Australia’s federal budget, released last week, added zero new dollars for famine prevention and relief. It’s unconscionable that we will create and distribute vaccines faster than ever before for some people, while people are left to starve in other places.”


Contact Adam Pulford on 0424 885 387 to organise an interviews with:

  • Peter Walton, CARE Australia CEO (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Aline Ouedraogo, CARE DRC Country Director (Kinshasa, DRC)
  • Frederic Cyiza, Humanitarian Program Coordinator (Goma, eastern DRC)
  • Benoit Munsch, Managing Deputy Regional Director for Great Lakes (Rwanda)

About CARE Australia 

CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation that works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. 


CARE has worked in the DRC since 2002. Across the DRC, CARE currently works in four provinces of the highest humanitarian need: North Kivu, South Kivu, Lomami and Kasai region. CARE implements integrated health and GBV program, WASH programming, food security and livelihood including food and cash assistance, sexual reproductive health and economic empowerment.

Key facts and stats

  • 27.3 million people in the DRC are acutely food insecure according to the March 2021 IPC report, with nearly 7 million people living on the brink of famine. 
  • Population figures for Australia are taken from the Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo is now in the world’s largest food crisis with 27.3 million people in acute food insecurity or higher to the recent Global Report on Food Crises released on 5th May 2021. The top 5 worst food crises, by numbers affected are; the Democratic Republic of the Congo (27.3 million), Yemen (16.1 million), followed by Afghanistan (13.2 million), Ethiopia (12.9 million) and northern Nigeria (12.8 million).
  • Currently only 5.8% of the $831 million needed for food support in 2021 has been provided, and only 10.7% of the overall $1.98bn response plan funded. The 2020 appeal reaching only 39% funding by the end of the year, and within that, only 33% of food support needs were funded.
  • In 2019 CARE carried out a Literature review of Gender and Power Analyses in the Provinces of North and South Kivu Kivu, DRC
  • The compounding stressors of conflict and food insecurity uniquely impact women and girls in their risk for intimate partner violence, child, early and forced marriage, cutting off education, and being forced to engage in transactional sex, as shown by CARE’s 2020 report: “Sometimes We Don’t Even Eat.” 
  • CARE, alongside over 260 other organisations, signed an open letter calling to action to the international community to immediately scale up the response to acute food insecurity so that we can collectively prevent famine as part of a global ‘Fight Famine’ campaign.

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