Photo of a woman from the DRC

A new law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) now requires mining companies to support socially-responsible programs, and prominent leaders are calling on the companies to invest in family planning. Following a request from the President of the DRC, in December 2018, civil society members met with government leaders and over 20 mining companies to discuss options for including family planning in their social responsibility strategies.

Interest in this opportunity is also sparking much-needed discussion among government leaders, advocates, and implementing partners on how to better coordinate the allocation and disbursement of family planning funding at the national and provincial level. While the national government is a strong supporter of family planning, provincial governments have struggled with timely disbursement of government funds allocated nationally, leaving a financing gap for family planning services and supplies.

So when the DRC government signed the new mining code into law in March 2018, the National Permanent Multi-sectoral Technical Committee (Comité Technique Multisectoriel Permanent, or CTMP) recognized it as an opening to engage the private sector to supplement funding for provincial family planning programs. With support from Advance Family Planning local partner Tulane International, the national CTMP engaged Investissement Durable au Katanga (IDAK), a collaborative platform comprised of members of provincial government, civil society, and mining companies, to encourage mining companies to include financing provincial family planning programs in their social responsibility strategies.

 As a result, a delegation from the CTMP was invited to present at the country’s second meeting of the mining companies held in the Lualaba province from May 22-24, 2018. Over 300 participants representing mining companies from the Haut Uélé, Lualaba, Maniema, and South Kivu provinces as well as civil society and government officials from the mining sector attended the meeting.

In their panel presentation, the CTMP highlighted the importance of family planning to key issues on the agenda, including the emergence of the DRC’s mining industry and the social accountability of mining companies under the new mining code. The national CTMP coordinator also showcased the current provincial-level funding situation for family planning and highlighted how the mining companies’ contributions could help finance the expansion of family planning services and contraceptive procurement to meet the needs of their local communities. After the presentation, the vice-governor of the Lualaba province recommended that the mining companies fund family planning as a part of their social responsibility.

Then the CTMP delegation was invited to host a booth at the third convening of the DRC’s mining conference in September 12-14, 2018. During this conference, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with the President of the DRC. They asked him to improve the disbursement of funds from the national government to provincial governments and to support mining companies across the country to finance family planning as a part of their social responsibilities. 

Arsene Binanga (second from the left) and Lis Lombeya Lisomba of the National CTMP speak with President Joseph Kabila.
Arsene Binanga (second from the left) and Lis Lombeya Lisomba of the National CTMP speak with President Joseph Kabila.

In response, the President asked Prime Minister Bruno Tshibla and the Lualaba Governor Richard Muyej to consider the requests and receive the CTMP delegation. This gave the national CTMP the opportunity to further engage with the government and the mining companies and follow up with the Prime Minister on the challenges with the disbursement of funds at the provincial level.

The first opportunity for civil society to engage both the mining companies and the government together came in the December meeting. The mining companies responded positively and requested the provincial CTMPs’ help in ensuring family planning is seen as an expressed need of the community.

The provincial CTMPs will follow up with the mining companies and the governor of Lualaba to ensure family planning is included in the mining companies’ social responsibility strategies and facilitate the mobilization of funds beginning in the Lualaba province.  The national CTMP plans to continue to engage with IDAK to expand these engagement efforts into additional provinces as the new mining code takes effect across the DRC.