Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The glass is half full

I came across this IMF report on progress made by the Congolese government on its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). It's pretty brazen in its blinkered optimism, but worthwhile glancing at, if only to see what the government will be saying going into the election campaign. The figures are for 2009, but many are relevant today.

They include somewhat ridiculous statements like:

With respect to security, operations successfully reestablished peace and the government’s authority in the eastern and western parts of the country (the Goma peace accord, the Amani Programme for the Security, Pacification, Stabilization and Reconstruction of the Kivu Provinces, the joint Umoja Wetu operation with Rwanda, Kimia I and II, Operation Amani Leo, and the assimilation (brassage), disarmament, demobilization, and integration of ex-combatants).  
This is for 2009, mind you, when military operations displaced a million people in the Kivus and killed thousands of civilians.

But there were also some real accomplishments, although I would emphasize that this is apparently a ministry of planning (Olivier Kamitatu) report, not an IMF one, letterhead notwithstanding:

There was an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report; the repair of several turbines at the Inga dam, as well as the installation of power facilities in Kananga and Kindu; the modernization and regularization of fiscal management (they apparently brought emergency expenditures under the regular budgetary process); the construction and repair of courts, prisons and administrative buildings.

Here are some other figures we are sure to hear more of soon:

  • Primary school enrollment went from 64% to 84% between 2006 and 2008 (sounds a bit too miraculous)
  • Under five mortality was reduced from 172 to 148 per thousand over the same period
  • Maternal mortality fell from 1,289 to 944 per 100,000 between 2001 and 2008
  • 22,900 kilometers of roads were completed (both paved and non-paved)
  • 12,000 children working in mines were removed
The report is obviously heavily spun and leaves out the huge failures to provide services, combat impunity and restore peace. Most of the initiatives that the government claims responsibility for were largely planned and executed by foreign partners and donors. 

I find it a bit objectionable that the IMF would publish such a document under its own letterhead - it takes a few seconds to realize that this is really a Congolese document. I guess all in the name of local ownership and collaboration. 


Anonymous said...

Actually, Jason, the glass is poisoned.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the glass is poisonous! That’s why we in DRC don’t make a big deal of all these UN, IMF, Word Bank, and all of the kind. They befriend the Congolese ( African ) leaders (who love to go to Washington at least once a year!). They work from their sanitized and air-conditioned offices thousands and thousands of miles away, on data often provided by the government and can end up, even unconsciously, reporting in the advantage of “their friends”and seeing social and economic improvement where the population is sometimes living even in dire conditions. But Kabila and his men can use those reports at the next round of elections, they won’t be fooling anyone!
Julie M.

Jason Stearns said...

I am posting this for a friend, Pascal K.:

One of the findings of the report you found hard to believe is that “Primary school enrollment went from 64% to 84% between 2006 and 2008.”

I just wanted to point out that these are projections in the PRSP, rather than actual achievements as a result of the PRSP. If you look at AfriMap's report from 2009 (page 3) these objectives were “from the start clearly unobtainable.” The English short version of the report is available here:

How these objectives transformed themselves into actual results in the document you comment is something of a mystery.

I also want to stress two more points. Data collection system in the Congolese education sector has been improved in the last 2 to 3 years, in part thanks to the support of the ADB and others. Data collection is however still so disorganized and unreliable that planning in the sector is made extremely difficult. Even projections in documents such as the PRSP are based on uncertain, and at times just bogus, data. The longer version of the report discusses this in more details.

Richard Muamba said...

I have recommended most of my friends to check geniune reporting of the DRC on CongoSiasa. Thank you Jason for updating us on real facts affecting our beautiful Nation.

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