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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Global Health: Science and Practice
Title Family planning policy environment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: levers of positive change and prospects for sustainability
Volume 3
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 163-173
URL http://www.ghspjournal.org/content/3/2/163.short
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)—with a population estimated at 67.5 million1—is the third most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa and the most populous francophone country. Since its independence from Belgium in 1960, the country has had a tumultuous history.

During the dictatorship of President Mobutu Sese Seko (1965–1997), when the country was named Zaire, the repressive government provided periods of relative stability but at great cost to the country and to its citizens. In 1991, Mobutu lost control over the population; political turmoil and social unrest, known as the pillage (plundering), created a highly volatile environment that caused foreign investors and international donor agencies to withdraw completely or reduce support to the country, plunging the country further into poverty. The First Congo War (1996–1997) resulted in Mobutu being overthrown by the Rwandan-backed rebel leader Laurent-Desiré Kabila.2

The Second Congo War (that involved 9 neighboring countries) occurred primarily in the eastern part of the country between 1998 and 2002, resulting in further economic devastation. By the early 2000s, life in the capital city of Kinshasa and some other provinces began returning to normalcy, although the threat of war continued to simmer in the eastern provinces bordering Rwanda and Uganda.3 Because of the ravages of war, political uncertainty, external exploitation, inadequate investment in human capital, and widespread poverty, the DRC—one of the richest countries in the world in minerals—ties for last place among 187 nations on the Human Development Index.4

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