Income inequality is the uneven distribution of wealth or income among the citizens of a nation. In countries where income inequality is high, a majority of the country's income is often controlled by few individuals who are rich. This usually led to the creation of a large gap between the rich and the poor. The Democratic Republic of Congo like most nations in Africa suffers from income inequality. The state's income inequality has been caused by various reasons that relate to its political, social, geographical, and economic factors.
Some of the political factors that have promoted income inequality in the Democratic Republic of Congo are such as high corruption level among the government officials. Corruption has enabled most of the government officials to benefit themselves with the nation's public resources. Most of the officials usually steal the financial aid given to them by the various charitable organizations and governments of developed countries leaving the country in debts (North et al. pg. 76). The political unrest instigated by politicians is also an example of a political factor that has promoted the nation's rise in income inequality. Political conflicts such as the 1997 to 2003 Civil War and 2003 to 2016 persistent militia clashes in the eastern part of the nation caused most of the middle and lower class citizens to lose their resources. This thus widened the gap between the rich and the poor.
The social factors that have contributed to the income inequality among citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo are, for instance, the traditional beliefs of individuals living in the nation. Even though 50 percent of the country's citizens are Christians, most of them still believe in some of their different traditional beliefs (Boya Pg. 154). Their faith in traditions has made most of the people in the country to prefer subsistence farming thus lowering their income margin. The few who engage in cash crop farming have largely benefited from utilizing modernized farming methods which have enabled them to increase their farm productivity thus making them richer. The ignorance of modern practices such as family planning has also led to the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. The birth rate in the country is high especially among the poor. This has led them to struggle since they have to cater to the needs of their family yet they have limited resource.
A geographical factor such as the availability of various fertile lands and minerals, for example, diamond, gold, tin, uranium, manganese, and oil has significantly contributed the income inequality in the state. Unlike South Africa and Nigeria which have significantly benefited from the availability of various minerals, the nation's gift of nature has been one of the leading causes of its destruction. The country's abidance in natural wealth has been a curse to its people. This is because it has lead most of them not to have a stable income flow due to the constant attacks between different groups that fight for ownership of the nation's resources. Conflicts over the country's resources can be dated from pre-colonial eras of the late 15th Century when Portuguese traders started exploring the land to this date. Different local and international bodies have been fighting over mining rights in various regions of the nation (Boya pg. 164). The country's state of under development yet it has numerous valuable resources is similar to that of Sudan and Somali which also have valuable resources such as gold and oil.
Economic factors that have also contributed to the Democratic Republic of Congo's income inequality are such as, the enforcement of unproductive trading policies that promote unemployment. The nation, for instance, has for a long time sold its raw materials to foreign countries. This has made only a few of its citizens to benefit from the sales. According to Laudati (Pg. 38), the country would have benefited more if it encouraged the setting up of manufacturing firms where the raw materials would be utilized in making products that would be sold as finished goods to foreign nations. This is because the manufacturing companies would directly create employment to workers who would work in the factories and indirectly to employees working at firms in other relating industries such as banking and transportation. The creation of jobs would help in bridging the gap between the wealthy and poor thus reducing the country's margin of income inequality.
The lack of skilled labor has contributed to the nation's income inequality. Most of the fields relating to high paying professions such as engineering, medicine, and architecture are mainly occupied by foreigners while the country's citizens hold low-paying professions such as casual labors. This has been the case since only a few of the state's citizens have the skills required in the high paying professions. The lack of proper infrastructures is also a factor that has widened the gap between the wealthy and poor. The state's poor infrastructures like roads have made it hard for most of the citizens to register high profits from their trading activities. This is because they are forced to spend a lot of resources in, for instance, transporting their produce to the markets thus reducing their profit margins.
However, despite the large in income inequality margins of in the country, the intervention of non-governmental organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Courts and the World Health Organizations has aided in bridging the gap between the wealthy and the have-nots. The United Nations has deployed its military forces to various parts of the country thus assisting the government in fighting the various political radical groups. This has helped in making the country peaceful and habitable (North et al. pg. 70). The World Bank has supported the government in the building of different social amenities such as roads, schools, and hospitals. This has encouraged most of the citizens to concentrate on building their future through learning and engaging in small-scale businesses that have helped them in sustaining themselves and their families. The International Courts have assisted the country in the setting of strong political governance. The courts have seen the conviction of various political leaders who made the nation unstable by instigating citizens into engaging in political war. The World Health Organization, on the other hand, has assisted in ensuring that the state's residents, especially those leaving in rural areas, receive proper health care. This has led to the reduction of mortality and adaptation of important practices such as proper family planning programs.
In conclusion, the unstable governance of the Democratic Republic of Congo caused by the scramble for the natural wealth of the nations by different interest groups is what has majorly caused its income inequality. However, the intervention of the various non-governmental organizations has been beneficial since the organizations have assisted stabilizing the government. This has thus made the country peaceful and encouraged the citizens to work towards rebuilding their nation's future.
Boya, Loso Kiteti. DR Congo. Xlibris Corporation, 2010.
Laudati, Ann. "Beyond minerals: broadening economies of violencein eastern DemocraticRepublic of Congo." Review of African Political Economy 40.135 (2013): 32-50.
North, Douglass C., Wallis, J. J., Webb, S. B., & Weingast, B. R.. In the shadow of violence:Politics, economics, and the problems of development. Cambridge University Press,2013.
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