When a WFP monitoring team recently drove to Bunyakiri to visit schools receiving WFP food, Jim Farrell went along to see for himself whether Eastern Congo's famous Route Nationale 3 was really as bad as they say. Here’s what he saw.
Although it's named “Route Nationale 3”, all resemblance to an American freeway or German autobahn ends there. The road from the port city of Bukavu winds 90 kms through the hills to the town of Bunyakiri and then goes on for another 50 km to Hombo. In Hombo it ends abruptly at a bridge that collapsed a decade ago.
Built in 1960s
The road, which slices through South Kivu province, was built and paved in the late 1960s. Little has been done to it since then. This route used to be a major thoroughfare for the agricultural produce of the hilly but fertile South Kivu area. Someday, perhaps, it will again once again allow the export of palm oil and cassava – the region’s traditional products.
Food for families
MONUC – the UN integrated mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo – is working on the road to improve its worst sections. But for now, it remains a thin and uncertain lifeline for tens of thousands of people who depend upon WFP for food.
Using the road, WFP supplies food to 6,000 families who recently flooded into Hombo to avoid fighting and also to 3,960 school children in Bunyakiri.