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DRC: War in Ukraine sparks food-security fears

A motorcyclist leaves the gas station after refuelling for the day in Bukavu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on March 16, 2022.   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

Rising prices driven by the Ukraine crises have stoked fear of devastating social turmoil in eastern DR Congo. In the region, the economy is hobbled by geographical remoteness and decades of violence.

Lately, when Congolese go at the pump it has been the same disappointment.

Inexorably soaring fuel prices in the Democratic Republic of Congo are the latest consequence of the war in Ukraine. The conflict is stoking fears and anger especially among residents of the northeastern part of DRC. "The authorities are present yet prices are rising and the authorities are not involved in regulating them, Alimasi Agbarah a taxi driver says. Why not ask those who are raising prices to lower them, and even stop them [from speculating?]"

The rising costs not only affect fuel, on the markets stalls commodities get prohibitively expensive.

A 50-kilo bag of sugar which previously cost around 43 $ now goes for 60 $. And the same goes for cooking oil, rice or maize, they are now worth the double of their price few weeks ago.

One of the reasons explaining this inflation is that DRC heavily relies on imports. A dependence that could destabilized the country's food security according to economist Paulin Bishakabalya. "If at the international level we don't find a way to stop what is happening in Ukraine, it means that we have face supply difficulties, it is clear that prices will continue to surge here and I think that the next two months will be decisive for our populations here in the east of the DRC, we are going to feel the shock of this war between Ukraine and Russia", the economics analyst with the Congo Federation of Businesses predicts.

To reduce the pressure on households, the governor of the Bukavu province has recommended that prices be lowered in the markets. But economic operators struggle to apply the directive, they have already suffered record-losses due to inflation.

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