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CRS — Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Democratic Republic of Congo: Background and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Conflict, poor governance, and a long-running humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) present a range of challenges for international policy makers, including Members of Congress. Chronic instability in the mineral-rich and densely populated east of the country has caused widespread human suffering and inhibited private sector investment throughout the wider Great Lakes region of central Africa. Congolese political actors have displayed limited capacity and will to improve security and governance, while neighboring states have reportedly periodically provided support to rebel groups in DRC.

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Country Analysis Brief: Congo (Brazzaville)

January 30, 2014 Comments off

Congo (Brazzaville)
Source: Energy Information Administration

Congo (Brazzaville), formerly known as the Republic of the Congo, is a mature oil producer with declining output at most of its fields. Congo’s economy is heavily dependent on its oil production as it accounted for almost 87% of the country’s export revenues and almost 80% of the government’s total revenue in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A vast majority of oil and natural gas exploration and production activities in Congo are conducted offshore.

Congo holds sizable proved natural gas reserves, but only small amounts are commercialized because of the lack of infrastructure. Congo also may hold large oil sands deposits (petroleum deposits of bitumen also known as tar sands) and Eni, an Italian oil company, recently launched a feasibility study. If the project is undertaken, it would be the first tar sands project in Africa.

Congo also has extensive hydropower potential, but most of it remains untapped. Despite Congo’s rich energy resources, the electrification rate is low, especially in rural areas, mainly because of a lack of electricity infrastructure. According to the latest (2010) estimate from the World Bank, 37% of the country has access to electricity, leaving more than 2.5 million people without access.

Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence

June 7, 2013 Comments off

Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common in survivors of sexual violence. In high-income countries, there are effective treatments for trauma related to sexual violence, but these treatments have not been adequately tested in low-income, conflict-affected countries with few mental health professionals and low literacy rates. The few studies of effectiveness have had methodologic limitations, including a lack of controls and high attrition rates.

Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is a low-income, conflict-affected region in which political and economic instability are ongoing problems and nearly 40% of women have experienced sexual violence. The development of effective mental health services has important implications for the recovery of sexual-violence survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo and similar countries.

We evaluated an adaptation of group cognitive processing therapy provided by community-based paraprofessionals (psychosocial assistants), supervised by psychosocial staff at a nongovernmental organization (NGO) and by clinical experts based in the United States. Cognitive processing therapy has shown efficacy in high-income countries, with effects lasting for 5 or more years. We evaluated the benefits of adding this therapy to services offered by workers trained only in case management and individual supportive counseling.

Mineral resources and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

July 22, 2012 Comments off

Mineral resources and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute

Civil wars inflict considerable costs on countries which may be trapped in vicious cycles of violence. To avoid these adverse events, scholars have attempted to identify the roots of civil wars. Valuable minerals have been listed among the main drivers of civil conflicts. Yet, despite the large body of literature, the evidence remains mixed. This paper provides a spatially nuanced view of the role of mineral resources in civil wars in the particular case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We estimate the impact of geolocated new mining concessions on the number of conflict events between January 1997 and December 2007. Instrumenting the variable of interest with historical concessions interacted with changes in mineral international prices, we unveil an ecological fallacy: Whereas concessions have no effect on the number of conflicts at the territory level (lowest administrative unit), they do foster violence at the district level (higher administrative unit). We develop a theoretical model wherein the incentives of armed groups to exploit and protect mineral resources explain our empirical findings. A spatial analysis of the effect of mining concessions on conflict backs our proposed theoretical explanation.

Country Analysis Brief: Congo (Brazzaville)

December 15, 2011 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Congo (Brazzaville)
Source: Energy Information Administration

Congo is a mature oil province with declining production; however, new offshore oil fields have recently reversed this trend and boosted production over the past three years. Congo has benefited from oil resources off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, which also feeds much of the production of neighboring countries.

Congo is the fourth-largest oil producer in Africa that is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), after Egypt, Sudan, and Equatorial Guinea. Although Congo is among the largest oil producers in Africa, Congo’s production has little impact on world oil supply relative to larger African producers, since oil production in the region is heavily concentrated in the African OPEC countries (Nigeria, Algeria, Angola and Libya).

Categories: Congo, energy

Resource Wars and Conflict Ivory: The Impact of Civil Conflict on Elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo – The Case of the Okapi Reserve

November 11, 2011 Comments off

Resource Wars and Conflict Ivory: The Impact of Civil Conflict on Elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo – The Case of the Okapi Reserve
Source: PLoS ONE

Human conflict generally has substantial negative impacts on wildlife and conservation. The recent civil war (1995-2006) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) resulted in a significant loss of wildlife, including elephants, due to institutional collapse, lawlessness and unbridled exploitation of natural resources such as minerals, wood, ivory and bushmeat. We used data from distance sampling surveys conducted before and after the war in a protected forest, the Okapi Faunal Reserve, to document changes in elephant abundance and distribution. We employed Generalized Additive Models to relate changes in elephant distribution to human and environmental factors. Populations declined by nearly fifty percent coinciding with a major increase in elephant poaching as indicated by reports of ivory trade during the war. Our results suggest that humans influenced elephant distribution far more than habitat, both before and after the war, but post-war models explained more of the variation. Elephant abundance declined more, closer to the park boundary and to areas of intense human activity. After the war, elephant densities were relatively higher in the centre of the park where they were better protected, suggesting that this area may have acted as a refuge. In other sites in Eastern DRC, where no protection was provided, elephants were even more decimated. Post-war dynamics, such as weakened institutions, human movements and availability of weapons, continue to affect elephants. Survival of remaining populations and recovery will be determined by these persistent factors and by new threats associated with growing human populations and exploitation of natural resources. Prioritizing wildlife protection, curbing illegal trade in ivory and bushmeat, and strengthening national institutions and organizations in charge of conservation will be crucial to counter these threats.

Country Specific Information: Republic of the Congo

August 7, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Republic of the Congo
Source: U.S. Department of State

August 04, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is a developing nation in central Africa. The official language is French, but Lingala, Kikongo, and Kituba are also widely spoken. The largest cities are the capital, Brazzaville, located on the Congo River, and Pointe Noire, on the Atlantic coast. Parts of the capital and large areas in the south of the country were damaged during civil conflict in 1997 and 1998-1999. The last rebel group signed a cease-fire accord with the government in March 2003. Facilities for tourism are very limited. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on the Republic of the Congo for additional information.

Country Specific Information: Democratic Republic of the Congo

July 24, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Source: U.S. Department of State

July 20, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)(DRC), located in central Africa, is the second-largest country on the continent. The capital is Kinshasa. French is the official language. The country endured more than a decade of civil war that ended in 2003, but still faces continuing political and economic instability. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for additional information.

New From the GAO

July 13, 2011 Comments off

New GAO Reports, Correspondence and Testimonies (PDFs)
Source: Government Accountability Office

+ Reports

1.  Residential Appraisals:  Opportunities to Enhance Oversight of an Evolving Industry.  GAO-11-653, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-653
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11653high.pdf

2.  Proprietary Trading:  Regulators Will Need More Comprehensive Information to Fully Monitor Compliance with New Restrictions When Implemented.  GAO-11-529, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-529
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11529high.pdf

3.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo:  Information on the Rate of Sexual Violence in War-Torn Eastern DRC and Adjoining Countries.  GAO-11-702, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-702
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11702high.pdf

+ Correspondence

1.  Cost and Legal Authority for Selected Financial Literacy Programs and Activities.  GAO-11-781R, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-781R

+ Testimonies

1.  Aviation Security:  TSA Has Taken Actions to Improve Security, but Additional Efforts Remain, by Stephen M. Lord, director, homeland security and justice issues, before the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  GAO-11-807T, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-807T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11807thigh.pdf

2.  Homeland Security: Protecting Federal Facilities Remains a Challenge for the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the subcommittees of the House Committee on Homeland Security.  GAO-11-813T, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-813T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d11813thigh.pdf

3.  Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, and Stalking:  National Data Collection Efforts Underway to Address Some Information Gaps, by Eileen R. Larence, director, homeland security and justice, before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.  GAO-11-833T, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-833T

4.  Residential Appraisals:  Opportunities to Enhance Oversight of an Evolving Industry, by William B. Shear, director, financial markets and community investment, before the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity, House Committee on Financial Services.  GAO-11-783T, July 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-783T

IMF Country Report: Republic of Congo

March 4, 2011 Comments off

IMF Country Report: Republic of Congo (PDF)
Source: International Monetary Fund

+ Economic indicators are encouraging and overall growth should quickly accelerate with the global recovery taking hold. Oil production is rising and there are signs of increasing activity in the non-oil sector. Inflation has fallen below the Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale (CEMAC) convergence criteria of 3 percent per year.

+ The external position continues to improve, and Congo’s contribution to the common pool of reserves is rising. The current account is expected to swing into surplus buoyed by higher oil exports and firming oil prices in 2010; and Congo’s external debt has declined dramatically as a result of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief.

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