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DRC Exceeding Expectations


Written by Plant With Purpose on January 27, 2016 in General

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BiroriBeckyIn December a delegation of Plant With Purpose staff traveled to Tanzania for a series of meetings and field visits. During our time together, we sat down with Plant With Purpose Democratic Republic of the Congo’s pilot project manager to hear about the first six months of the program. What Birori Dieudonné had to share was very encouraging! Read on to hear how Plant With Purpose DRC is already exceeding expectations. 


 

The pilot project launched in the remote region of the Kakumba watershed this past summer. A baseline study of the project areas highlights the extreme poverty and environmental degradation that DRC faces. In Kakumba 86 percent of families rely solely on agriculture for income, yet the land is not producing enough. On average families eat 1.3 meals a day with 95 percent saying they went at least one full day without eating during the month of the study.

Plant With Purpose is only the second organization to reach the 4,000 people living in the Kakumba watershed. The other organization provided seedlings to families but invested little in the long-term success of the trees or the wellbeing of the families.

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The Kakumba watershed is very remote with no passable roads. Walking is the main source of transportation.

In light of this, it is pretty amazing how quickly families have come to trust Plant With Purpose. Birori shared that their strategy was to begin working with the 15 churches within the watershed. A “crusade” was held to unite all denominations with a focus on peace and reconciliation, while casting a strong vision for collaboration. Birori said, “Denominations don’t collaborate. But they came together. Reconciliation was there.”

Following the gathering, his team started with teaching “Theology of Work” seminars at a handful of these churches. Nine of them are now partners with 10 Village Savings and Loan Associations meeting on a weekly basis.

Side note: The annual goal was to launch nine VLSAs in their first year. Ten groups were established in their first three months of running the program—an indicator of the excitement to be involved with Plant With Purpose.

“People are very poor. It is hard to even find $.50 on a weekly basis to save but people are doing their best to find money to save. Some work on neighbor’s farms to earn an income. People have started to do environmental activities to generate money. Our environmental technician goes out to help with planting,” said Birori.

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Slash-and-burn agriculture is still practiced by families in Kakumba. Birori will face many challenges introducing Plant With Purpose’s program in the DRC.

One of the biggest issues that Birori and the team face is that there are no laws in the region to protect the environment. People are in the habit of clearing land by burning it. Trees are constantly cut down without new ones replacing them. Inviting local leadership to back Plant With Purpose’s efforts is important. Birori started a group to collaborate on the restoration of the local environment. In attendance at the first meet were government officials, police, and all the local tribal leaders. They plan to meet on a consistent basis and will work together for the health of their surroundings.

The news of torrential rains that took place this past weekend reminds us of just how vulnerable families in the Kakumba watershed are to external stresses. The heavy rains fell with reports of landslides, erosion, and even the loss of homes. Crops were decimated. Birori wrote saying, “People thanked Plant With Purpose even though we could not stop this event from happening. We have trained them in preventing erosion. The way to achieve our goals is long and now we face an even bigger challenge. Your prayers are needed. Please pray for the families in the Kakumba watershed.”

Despite the numerous hardships, Birori is full of optimism and firmly exclaimed:

“People don’t have hope of life. We are here to help, to see the improvement of the Kakumba watershed.”

The pilot project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is funded by the Plant For Tomorrow expansion campaign. To learn more and support the work in DRC, visit our Plant For Tomorrow campaign page


One Comment

  1. This is fantastic!

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