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Helping Returnees Cope With Lean Season In North Kivu

Rebuilding life after months of displacement and destitution is always challenging for conflict-affected populations. In eastern DRC, WFP provides support to internally displaced people returning to their areas of origin in the early stage of their re-settlement so that they can get back on their feet.

After 14 stressful months in a displaced persons ’camp, Bosco Ntatchumpenze is delighted to be back in his village and once again settled in his wooden house. From its hilltop position, his home commands a wonderful view of Ngungu village, about 60 km southwest of Goma, North Kivu’s provincial capital.

“Back in the village, there is always room to grow crops, breed animals, and accommodate visitors and relatives,” says Bosco, a native of Bushasha village in Masisi Territory.

This 41-year-old man has had little stability in his life over the past eight years. His misfortunes began in 2006 with an attack by a self-defence militia against the village in which he lived at the time. Bosco and his family had to flee. They ended up in Ngungu. Two years later, another conflict erupted in Masisi Territory between one of the many rebels groups and the Congolese regular army.

Hundreds of thousands of people, including Bosco, sought refuge in camps around Goma. In 2009, following a peace agreement between the rebel militia and the Congolese government, Bosco and other internally displaced people (IDPs) decided to go home. On return, however, they found their houses and assets had been looted or destroyed.

In November 2012, as people were recovering from years of destruction, tribal competition over the control of natural resources- land, pasture and minerals – led to clashes between self-defence groups in Ngungu. Again, Bosco and his family were forced back to Goma.

Known for being the manager of a local football team in his village, he was elected president of Buhimba IDP camp. Working with aid agencies, he coordinated humanitarian assistance activities in support of his fellow IDPs. With security improving, Bosco decided to leave the camp in January 2014. This time, his house was not destroyed but instead occupied by displaced families from nearby villages.

“This is how our life goes in this part of the country,” says Bosco. “Either you become an IDP or you become a host family for those fleeing insecurity around you.”

In response to the food needs of conflict-affected people in Ngungu, WFP distributed some 240 metric tons of food to 27,000 people in late April despite immense logistical challenges caused by poor road conditions.

“Life would have been difficult for us without this food assistance,” he says. “I’ve planted maize and potatoes but the harvest will not be ready for another two or three months.”

WFP and its partners are providing food assistance to 528,000 vulnerable and food-insecure people in North Kivu, including IDPs, malnourished children under five years of age, pregnant women and nursing mothers, school children, victims of sexual violence and people living with HIV/AIDS.