From living in fear in the Democratic Republic of Congo to finding peace in Zambia
A story on how WFP food assistance is changing the life of Jackie Kisimba
Nearly seven months ago, the life of Jackie Kisimba, who lived in the village of Shomboshe, Pweto District, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), took an unexpected turn. The district she lived in became engulfed by conflict between the military and rebels forces, which forced her to flee to Zambia with her three orphaned grandchildren.
The 62-year-old grandmother made the decision to flee within hours after been attacked and assaulted by rebel forces, in her own home. She gathered her two granddaughters aged 15 and 17 and her grandson aged 13 and fled for safety.
“It felt like I had lost everything and had no choice but to leave my country. It was very painful.”
For a frail and exhausted elderly woman like Jackie the journey on a pick-up truck, with no food and water, from Shomboshe to the Zambian — DRC border was not an easy feat. It took her and her small family 72 hours to reach the Kenani Refugee Transit Centre, where they finally received a hot meal and temporary shelter. The centre, situated in Luapula Province, Zambia, is currently home to more than 15,000 Congolese refugees of whom 81 percent are women and children.
Since being at the camp, Jackie and her family have received food assistance on a monthly basis distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) through UNHCR and cooperative partner Action Africa Help. The food basket is comprised of fortified maize meal, pulses, vegetable oil, corn soya blend, sugar and iodized salt. Every food ration provides about 2,100 kilocalories per person, per day. Also, to ensure that vulnerable people like Jackie receive humanitarian assistance in a faster and more orderly way, a bio-metric verification system is used whereby registered people use their fingerprint to collect their food.
“My life started changing when I first got food from WFP. It gave me hope and my grandchildren some peace. I knew then that life would get better.”
Even though Jackie and her family receive food assistance, the grandchildren work on nearby farms. The money earned is used to buy groundnuts, which is then processed into flour and sold at the refugees’ market located in the camp. Jackie uses the profits to purchase fresh vegetables for her grandchildren.
“I depend on the food distribution by WFP and the little profit earned from the groundnut flour.”
Hope of going back home
For the moment, there is no hope of Jackie and her family returning home.
Sadly, the UN humanitarian response plan for Luapula Province projects that a further 52,000 refugees will cross into Zambia by December 2018.
“I am happy because I can sleep and my grandchildren are safe, even though I am not in my own country.”
Jackie is one of thousands of Congolese refugees in Zambia who receives food assistance from WFP, thanks to a generous contribution from the Central Emergency Response fund (CERF) and the support of multilateral donors. WFP Zambia continues to rely heavily on multilateral funding to prevent pipeline breaks through 2019 and maintain assistance to the thousands of refugees whose livelihoods are not established.
Learn more about WFP Crisis Response.