RESILIENT AGRICULTURE & SAVINGS GROUPS IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The Project at a Glance:
Resilient Agriculture & Self Help Groups – In Partnership with the Local Church
Location – 12 Villages in Malyo, Beni Territory, North Kivu – Democratic Republic of Congo
Local Church Partner – CommunVWVWauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique
(CBCA), Democratic Republic of Congo
People Impacted –
- 1000 farm families
- 3,061 savings group families
Women Impacted – 60%
Total Project Funding Requirement 2019-2021 – $215,000 per year
For decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) suffered deadly ethnic conflicts and civil war. Though the country is slowly recovering, there are still pockets of insecurity, especially in North Kivu where Tearfund is located.
Staple food and cash crops have been decimated by disease and soil erosion, leaving more than 75% of the population surviving on one meal a day. Many families find it difficult to eat anything nutritious at all.
From August 2018 till September 2019 approximately 2,200 people have died of an Ebola epidemic that has spread across much of the project area, to the province north, and even some deaths in Uganda and Rwanda. It is still not contained in spite of massive public health and vaccination campaigns.
Working through local church partner Communauté Baptiste au Centre de l’Afrique, this project provides tools for vulnerable families to fight hunger and increase their household income so they can look forward to healthier futures. By training farmers’ local, appropriate and sustainable agriculture practices, farmers are able to improve soil fertility and increase their yields.
Village Savings & Loans Group: With improved agriculture, some produce is available for sale. With no banking system for the poor, Village Savings groups are set up in each community to facilitate saving & lending from the group’s savings.
- Lack of access to financial services
- Food Insecurity and malnutrition.
- Civil disturbances by unemployed gangs.
- Ebola epidemic.
- No formal banks within many kilometers, therefore no access to capital.
- Declining crop yields due to:
- Plant diseases
- Lack of good seeds
- Poor agricultural practices that depleted
and eroded soil
- Climate change
- Years of civil conflict
Farmers learn sustainable agriculture practices, by receiving training in:
- Disease/pest control
- Vegetable gardening
- Ways to improve soil fertility and erosion control
- Planting techniques and crop rotation
- Green manure, mulching, composting and intercropping
Areas of Focus:
- Banana and Cassava Disease Management – Farmers receive disease-resistant seedlings and 5 management principles to grow and maintain healthy plants.
- Vegetable Production – For the first time, farmers learn how to grow cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, maize, and potatoes, which significantly increases their nutrition and potential for year-round income.
Village Savings and Loans Groups
Farmers or their spouses join savings groups to access loans:
- Group members meet weekly saving 40 cents to $2.00 each. This forms a loan pool that members can borrow from.
- After 12 months, the total funds are shared out to the members according to their level of investment.
- Annual disbursements of savings are used for agricultural inputs, school fees, medical costs, food, and home repairs.
Through mentorship, existing Village Councils will learn to engage in advocacy and interface meetings with local government and service providers in order to access basic services for their community.
How we work with the Local Church Partner:
Tearfund works with national church relief and development arms and local churches. They are part of the largest social service network in the world! We recognize that sustainable solutions to poverty require whole-life transformations – physical, economic, emotional and spiritual.
Work done in the last year:
- 1,000 farmers were trained on sustainable farming techniques and were provided tools and banana seedlings, cassava cuttings and a variety of vegetable seeds for consumption and sale.
- 12 community nurseries were established which producing 40,000 trees for timber, animal fodder, firewood, and natural pesticides.
- 412 farmers were trained on breeding, composting and, preparation of natural insecticide.
- 45 new VSL groups for savings and credit were initiated.
- 68 existing VSL groups were mobilized and trained, comprised of 3,355 members (1,793 males and 1,562 females).
- 478 beneficiaries (312 females and 166 males), and 12 local official leaders were trained on techniques for fighting against the epidemic of the Ebola virus.
- 8,400 kg of rice, 4200 kg of beans, 630 liters of vegetable oil and 200 kg of salt was distributed to 100 households in the Kalunguta and Maboya villages.
As head of her household, the pressure to care for her large family of 9 fell upon 50-year-old Muviri. After losing her husband, Muviri lacked sufficient income to support herself, let alone her large family.
Looking to fight hunger and increase her income, Muviri took advantage of her local church’s agriculture training and village savings and loans group. Having received training, she was eager to grow cauliflower and cabbage to eat and sell, using a loan to buy the seeds.
Even in the midst of a drought, her conservation agriculture training enabled her to grow a rewarding yield that has fed her family and provided a source of income.
“Before the project, I was fearful about schooling all my children; but now with God’s help through the Malio agriculture and VSL programs, I will afford school fees for all of them.”