The issues holding families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in poverty are deep and complex. The DRC is the second largest country in Africa, with close to 70 million inhabitants spread across 905,600 square miles (source: World Bank). Although the DRC has a wealth of natural resources, a decades-long civil conflict has impeded food security, market access, and poverty reduction. The social fabric of the country has been torn; millions of Congolese have been displaced, tribal tensions run rampant, violence erupts daily, and hope is hard to find.
Despite humanitarian aid interventions, extreme poverty and hunger persist across the DRC; 72 percent of rural households live in poverty and nearly 40 percent of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition (International Fund for Agricultural Development). Although the agricultural sector employs nearly 70 percent of the active population and produces 44 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), rural small-scale farmers struggle to provide for their families and lack the resources and training to succeed.
The environmental concerns are just as grave. 45 percent of the land is covered by rainforest and only three percent is arable (CIA World Factbook). The Kakumba Watershed of the Congo River faces significant degradation, including wildlife poaching, deforestation, and pollution from mining. This region is home to the endangered Eastern Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei). Their habitat is being destroyed and degraded by human activity, including mining and logging (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Efforts to protect this ecosystem while enabling farmers to sustainably utilize the land to support their families will be crucial to long-term stability in the region.
Plant With Purpose’s pilot program launched in summer 2015. The program is centered in the Kakumba Watershed of South Kivu. Plant With Purpose has stable networks in South Kivu and is leveraging these connections to ensure the success of this pilot program.
The program staff will simultaneously address three aspects of poverty—environmental, economic, and spiritual—through a holistic approach to community development that includes reforestation and sustainable agriculture, savings-led microfinance, and spiritual leadership development and reconciliation. The two-year DRC pilot project will be implemented from 2015-2017 with the aim of:
- Increasing agricultural production through the introduction of sustainable farming methods including soil conservation efforts and agroforestry techniques.
- Promoting reforestation efforts and sustainable forestry practices within local communities.
- Training farmers, forest owners, and landowners to generate income through sustainable practices.
- Improving financial resilience and investment capacity in local communities by training female farmers in savings-and-loan methodologies.
- Empowering local churches and leaders to teach environmental stewardship, meet the needs of their communities, and engage in discipleship efforts.
During the pilot phase, Plant With Purpose will conduct a baseline study including participatory workshops to better understand local farming systems and community needs; establish Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups to mobilize local resources and help families plan for the future; provide training and support in sustainable farming and watershed management practices; partner with local churches to help them meet community needs; and network with other organizations for research and habitat conservation of critical areas within the watershed.
Plant For Tomorrow
of the Congo
Invest in Plant With Purpose Democratic Republic of the Congo’s pilot project by giving to the Plant For Tomorrow Campaign. Your support will provide rural farming families the tools and training to lift themselves out of poverty. Plant For Tomorrow and change the future for families in DRC.