DRC recently experienced relative periods of peace and stability in the attempt to part away from the legacy of colonial rule, decades of dictatorship, civil wars and continuous unrest. The country applied rudimentary fiscal and monetary policies, which maintained inflation around 1% from 2013 to 2015 (Worldbank, 2015), propelling the country to an economic growth rate of 7.7%, standing well above the average economic growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the said growth has not translated into concrete social outcomes for citizens who continue to live in abject poverty.
The above mentioned economic growth path is likely to be short lived, however, for a combination of external and internal reasons. As the global fall in commodity prices is impacting the demand and supply of minerals worldwide, it prompted the government to downwardly readjust its forecasted growth from 7.7% in 2015 to 4.3% in 2016 (Worldbank, 2015). The timing is even more critical because DRC is currently experiencing considerable social, political and economic anxiety due to elections. Such political uncertainty in light of elections is influencing the national economy as well as investment perceptions as data from the Central bank indicate the depreciation of the exchange rate, a decline in imports level of high priced commodities and an accelerating inflation rate of 2.2%.
Building upon ongoing work on livelihoods in the DRC, this research project aims to conduct analysis and gain in depth knowledge on how the economic growth realized in the last decade was experienced throughout the country and across differing layers/sectors of the society. This research will deepen our understanding on the livelihoods of Congolese citizens by analyzing whether or not this growth has been pro-poor and if so, to what extent. A data collection unit called ‘Cellule d’Analyse des Indicateurs de Développement’ (CAID) has been established by the DRC government, with technical assistance from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), to collect and compile real time data across 145 rural territories across the country. This dataset currently available in the DRC is a viable source of information and will be critical in triangulating household budget survey data and to complement them with meso-level contextual information. The overall research objective is to pinpoint the relevant determinants of livelihoods for urban and rural households in the DRC and relate them to sectoral and geographical patterns of accumulation, thus informing decision makers and development partners on the political economy of inclusive growth and transformation in the DRC.
The quantitative side of the project has recently been complemented by a qualitative study on the political economy of data collection and statistics in the DRC. More concretely, a study investigates the attempt to conduct a population census in the DRC. Precise knowledge on the number of people living in the DRC is important for the analysis of, for examplpe, data surveys. However, the last population census in the Congo was carried out in 1984. Since the early 2000s, different groups of domestic and international actors have envisaged a new census, which was formally authorized in 2009. Since then, the Second Population and Housing Census in the DRC (RGPH2) has received funding by several donors (UNDP, World Bank, ABD, UNFPA, and others) but the census has not been executed. This research project is based on empirical qualitative research in the DRC and aims to analyse the unfolding of the census over time. The census continues to tie in supporters and attract funding, thus being a prime example of a project that persists despite the envisaged results. While the research is focused on the population census, this project will also deliver a comparative study between three unachieved censuses in the DRC: civil servants, teachers, population.