Solidarity groups in Congo
About the country
Congo is the 2nd largest country in Africa and with a population over 78m, the 4th most populated nation. A former Belgian colony, it gained independence in 1960, and now ranks 176th on 188 on the Human Development Index.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely rich in natural resources, but added to political instability are ethnic conflicts and a civil war between government troops and rebel groups over the last 40 years, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Consequently, an amazing 72% of its population lives with less than $1.25/day, life expectancy is 59.
In South Kivu, the poverty level even exceeds 84%, leading active men to abandon their families to engage in small scale mining for many years. Women find themselves alone in charge of their families, contracting short-term small loans to develop income-generating activities, which is rendered complicated by a problematic electric energy supply (in South Kivu, only 9% of the population - and none in rural areas - would have access to electricity for a fraction of the day).
Also, their illiteracy (30%) remains an obstacle to empowerment.
Environmental degradation and unsustainable exploitation are permanent issues, aggravating social and economic insecurity, malnutrition, and impacts the health status of the population. Demography being associated with poverty, human activities are too often linked to abuse of natural resources to meet basic needs in an already unhealthy environment (poor waste management).
For a period ending in 2022, the project targets the social and economic empowerment of vulnerable and illiterate women and girls belonging to the local solidarity groups (“mutuelles de solidarité”) through functional literacy promotion and effective support to revenue generating activities (RGA) and micro businesses. We also support the community’s health fostering a more rational use of electricity.
(i) Identify and train practitioners from solidarity groups, set up training facilities and organize literacy workshops and (ii) organize the development of business plans by young people and women, support selected micro-entrepreneurs in the setting up of microenterprises, and provide post-employment monitoring strengthening their managerial and entrepreneurial capacities; additionally (iii) support syndicated financial support groups to provide credits in favor of family managed RGA.
(i) Support the maintenance of existing turbines and the rehabilitation of the feeder canal and installation of solar equipment (panels, regulators, economic light bulbs) to local hospitals and (ii) organize training sessions on the protection and sustainable management of the environment, coupled with reforesting campaigns (tree seedlings distributions to trainees).
In cooperation with Louvain Cooperation (www.louvaincooperation.org/en)