Integral Responds to the Neglected Crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Integral Alliance has launched our first Neglected Crisis Disaster Response Pilot for the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo …

Photo: © World Relief 2021
People fleeing from the villages as communal conflicts continue in the Minembwe region. 

On Tuesday 4th May the Integral Alliance launched our first Neglected Crisis[1] Disaster Response Pilot for the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Currently, ten[2] Integral Members have opted in to be part of a collaborative pilot project in Minembwe – a territory located in the high tropical mountains in South Kivu, Eastern Congo.

Integral Member World Relief has worked in the DRC for over 20 years. Charles Franzen their Director of Humanitarian and Disaster Response says “Minembwe’s neglect mirrors Congo’s neglect since independence but the resilience of the people who live on that high plateau encourages us to believe that change and progress is possible; the membership of the Integral Alliance coming together to advocate and lift their voices in support is a wonderful and inspiring step in the right direction”.

Minembwe is an extremely neglected area within the larger Congolese protracted crisis. The situation found here is as a result of decades of ethnic antagonism between the remnant population, identified with the Rwandan neighbour, and other local ethnicities. Extreme poverty and marginalisation have resulted and the area has not seen significant development gains since independence 60 years ago.

Cressida Thompson, Integral’s Neglected Crises & Disaster Response Coordinator, says “Minembwe being extremely remote and rural, is a microcosm of the neglect DRC has seen and is therefore an ideal place to highlight national need through a localised response. Integral Members have had a long-term vision to do more as a faith-based Alliance in crises that become neglected, so it is great to be starting the first Neglected Crisis Response together.”

A Neglected Crises Working Group from across the Integral membership was formed in September 2020 to work out how to select one neglected crisis in which to collaborate and then begin a pilot response. The Working Group ranked a top ten list[3] of Neglected Crises situations and Members were asked to vote – the countries to receive the most votes were the DRC, Afghanistan and Haiti.

In February 2021 Integral Members, with support from the Working Group, formed the Neglected Crisis Groups to discuss what a collaborative response for each crisis might look like. Plans were summarised into proposals. All Members then added data for the three crises proposed allowing Members who were not part of the development of proposals to indicate how they may be able to collaborate in a response if each crisis was chosen. The Working Group then selected a neglected crisis from the three proposals through comparing the opportunities and constraints outlined, and also seeking to discern God’s leading.

Fiona Boshoff, the CEO of Integral says “For years we at the Secretariat have heard about neglected crises that Members are responding to with their field staff and Partners. For years it has been on the hearts and minds of Members and the Secretariat to do more through Integral in these situations, and after much prayer and hard work, today is the launch of our first Neglected Crises Disaster Response. Today is a milestone in the Integral journey which we want to mark.”

[1] We are defining Neglected Crises as ones that are protracted, complex or overlooked by the media, and therefore very difficult to raise funds for.
[2] International Health Partners (UK), SEL France, Tearfund Belgium, Tearfund Switzerland, Tearfund Ireland, Tearfund Netherlands, Tearfund UK, World Concern (USA), World Relief (USA), ZOA (Netherlands).
[3] To rank current neglected crises, four data sets were combined; the INFORM Risk Index (EC), most underreported crises (CARE), most under-funded Humanitarian Response Plans (UN) and people in need as a % of total population (UN).