Despite the country’s rich natural resources, most of Congo-Brazzaville’s residents live in poverty. According to the UN agency UNDP, 47 percent in 2012 lived below the poverty line.
The causes are decades of economic neglect, corruption, civil war and political turbulence. The civil war of 1997–2000 devastated large parts of healthcare, schools, agriculture and infrastructure. Reconstruction is still ongoing.
Health care is in poor condition and most developed in the cities. The lack of modern healthcare means that many people in the countryside are forced to rely on traditional medical arts.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Republic of the Congo, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Serious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and dengue fever are common. Typhoid also heals. Lack of clean water makes the risk of intestinal infections high. About 2.5 of the adult population is affected by HIV / AIDS.
Lack of food is a widespread problem and a fifth of Congolese suffer from malnutrition. After all, it is a sharp decline from the 1990s, when two-thirds of the country’s population was malnourished.
The state social insurance system is undeveloped. Persons with employment are entitled to pension and certain social benefits as family allowances. However, most Congolese are outside the formal labor market and economy. For them, the family is the most important social protection network. Most common is living in extended family, with multiple generations as well as siblings and their families, in the same house or close to each other.
Women are discriminated against in different ways. Infidelity is criminal for women, but not for men. A man can be married to several women, but a woman cannot be married to several men. Domestic violence is common, and there are no laws against marriage abuse. However, rape is also prohibited within marriage. Women are underrepresented in politics and working life.
There are many homeless children in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Most of them, according to the UN Children’s Fund, come from the war-affected neighboring Congo-Kinshasa. According to Unicef, about 1,800 children in Congo-Brazzaville are suspected of having arrived there through human trafficking.
The indigenous people, aka and gundy pygmies, are socially and economically discriminated against. They have poor access to health care, education and work, which is partly because they live in isolated areas. In the fall of 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples appealed to the Congo-Brazzaville government to protect the rights of pygmy peoples. At about the same time, Parliament passed a law to better protect the rights of the country’s minorities, but in practice nothing changed according to the indigenous peoples’ association in the country.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 36 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 2.6 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
1.6 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.5 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 68.3 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 20.2 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 3.4 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 70 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 11 percent (2018)
Sassou-Nguesso wants to make early elections
At the end of the month, President Sassou-Nguesso says he wants to advance the presidential election and hold elections during the first quarter of 2016 instead of in July of that year. As a reason, he states “the new dynamic” that emerged after the referendum in October.
Yes to the constitutional changes
According to the official result, 92 percent of voters agree to the constitutional changes. The turnout is said to be at 72 percent. The opposition, for its part, believes that turnout is low and that the vote should be annulled.
Call for boycott
The opposition urges voters to boycott the election. Some voters say they have not received any voting cards.
A referendum is announced
President Sassou-Nguesso announces a referendum until October 25 on the constitutional amendment that will allow him to be re-elected. He also makes an addition to the proposal, which means that the upper limit on how old a president may be should be removed (see Political system).
The opposition calls for demonstrations to protest the constitutional change. These are prohibited by the authorities, which also shut down all text and internet traffic, in both the capital of Brazzaville and in the port city of Pointe-Noire. Many shops, schools and service establishments are closed. Some protesters defy the ban and protest on October 19 at several locations in Brazzaville. Security forces intervene to stop the protest. Four people are killed according to authorities, but according to opposition leader Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, the number of casualties is at least 20.
Judges want to seize property
French judges demand that property belonging to President Sassou-Nguesso’s family in France be seized. The judges suspect that the property has been acquired on questionable grounds.
Protests against constitutional changes
At the end of the month tens of thousands of people in Brazzaville gather to protest the constitutional changes. According to the organizers, about 300,000 people participate in the demonstration.
A referendum is announced – with no date
President Sassou-Nguesso announces that there will be a referendum on the new constitution. However, he says nothing about when to keep it.
Two ministers who opposed a re-election of President Sassou-Nguesso are dismissed.
National forum is held for opposition groups
In an effort to counter a constitutional change, 650 delegates from 15 opposition groups gathered for an alternative national forum.
National dialogue is held on the presidency
President Sassou-Nguesso invites to a national dialogue at a conference on July 11-14. 400 politicians, trade unions, civil society representatives, former rebels and religious leaders will participate. The opposition, which fears that the president intends to seize the opportunity to get through the proposed constitutional amendments (see December 2015) boycott the event.
In the absence of important parts of the opposition, the “national dialogue” leads to a recommendation that a presidential candidate be as old as possible and that a president be allowed to sit for as many terms of office as possible. The recommendation is expected to lead to a referendum to decide whether today’s 72-year-old Sassou-Nguesso can stand for re-election in 2016. He has already ruled the country for a total of more than 30 years, 1979-1992 and since 1997.
The Congolese Parliament votes to cut the state budget by 12 percent. The reason is falling oil revenues as a result of falling world market prices for oil.
Corruption is revealed
It is revealed that Canadian mining company Magindustries’ subsidiary in Congo-Brazzaville has paid bribes to officials and politicians.
Prohibition of veils and overnight stays in mosques
Authorities forbid Muslim women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public places. Muslims from other countries are also forbidden to spend the night in mosques. As a reason, the government states that it wants to counter extremism. In the country there are thousands of refugees from neighboring Central African Republic, many of whom are Muslims who have sought shelter in the mosques.
Constitutional change is criticized by opposition
The opposition alliance Frocad (see Political system) presents a memorandum against the government’s planned amendments to the constitution (see December 2014). The letter is signed by some fifty politicians, representatives of various organizations and other prominent figures. The largest opposition party Upads belongs to is the signatory. UP and RDD, two parties that are in alliance with the governing PCT, also support the initiative.