The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the largest and most populous country of Central Africa. Even though it has very diverse natural resources, the Congo is among the poorest countries in the world. Social differences are blatant.
Bilateral cooperation between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo was resumed in 2000, after 9 years of interruption. Ever since, cooperation activities have increased in different sectors: Infrastructure, health, institutional support and good governance, community development, and education.
With an annual budget of about EUR 65 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the first partner of Belgian cooperation.
From 2010 onwards, the geographical action zones will be limited to achieve greater effectiveness of projects. Moreover, the cooperation programme will focus on three key sectors:
- Rural development,
- Technical and professional education.
About 80% of Congolese live in a rural environment. Agriculture is the main economic sector and contributes 56% to GDP. Belgium supports the agricultural development. It intervenes at two levels in particular: On the one hand, it contributes to making high-quality agricultural seeds available, and, on the other hand, it participates in opening up production zones by rehabilitating rural roads and river ferries. This way, the transportation of produce to centres of consumption is made easier and production, trade as well as small-scale rural industry are encouraged.
Cooperation also supports the professional training of young people. Indeed, the reconstruction and sustainable development of the country rely on the availability of skilled labour and technicians.
In order to reach these development objectives, Belgian cooperation, along with other donors such as the European Union and the World Bank, participates in multilateral programmes in the health, education and governance sectors.
Development agencies that look for performing service providers can also rely on Belgian expertise to execute their projects. This way, several projects are being executed on the account of British cooperation and the French development agency, namely in the fields of rural roads (district of Kabinda) and drinking water supply (in the Kinshasa and Mbujimayi periphery).