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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.      

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