DR Congo: Resilience & Nutrition Security
The remoteness of countryside regions and the bad state of the roads is a decisive factor in increasing the price of goods and also contributes to the danger of kidnappings or sexual violence. The country-dwellers are to a great extent dependent on what they themselves are able to produce, although this, in turn, is negatively influenced by insufficient knowledge of cultivation methods or lack of financial means to buy agricultural equipment or domestic animals. According to the UN, up to 65% of the inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of Congo live in extreme poverty. As a result of insufficient prenatal care and of malnutrition, one in seven children will not live beyond their fifth birthday.
People in Need concentrate mainly on supporting the sources of basic livelihood of the countryside population. Growing and consuming produce rich in nourishment, encouraging basic hygiene and understanding how to care for children under the age of five, as well as providing advisory services in agriculture, People in Need continues to help the local population in crop self-sufficiency and better nourishment and aims to decrease malnutrition, especially in children under five and pregnant or breast-feeding mothers.
A series of lectures, which take place in the different communities are a part of the prevention programme against malnutrition, the aim is to improve the hygiene habits of the population and to increase their awareness of appropriate nutrition, especially as concerns childen under the age of five. This may, for example, include, the setting up of small show gardens, the planting of various types of compatible crops or practical training designed to improve the breeding of domestic animals. Health and field community workers are trained in detecting malnutrition in children, their subsequent treatment and the encouragement of means of preventing malnutrition amongst the local population.
People in Need has been one of the main providers of help in South Kivu in the sector of nutrition. Since 2014, PIN is a co-lead , together with UNICEF, of nutrition cluster for South Kivu.
Assistance to Victims of Armed Conflicts
Since 2013, Punia is one of the areas characterized by extremely high levels of malnutrition and poverty. Because of the conflicts of armed groups operating in the surrounding areas, there is a large number of internally displaced people. Remoteness, uneven terrain and unstable security situation not only not allow local people access markets and health care, but also make it difficult to provide assistance to those who need it the most. People in Need cooperates with local communities to improve their living conditions, especially in the sectors of nutrition, agriculture and health.
In the framework of the intervention, the People in Need team focuses on the most vulnerable groups of people such as children under 5 years old and pregnant and nursing women. We provide nutrition for over 20 000 children, and we organize community-based trainings on prevention of malnutrition and recognizing its initial symptoms. We deliver improved seeds to farmers such as nutritionally rich vegetables and crops we teach farmers how to effectively grow the seeds. In total, People in Need helps to more than 40 000 residents in the area and improves their living conditions and their knowledge in agriculture, so that they can stand on their own feet again.
Prevention & Malnutrition Treatment
The main goal of this project is to reduce malnutrition in children younger than five years and in women of childbearing age (15 to 49 years) in the Minova region. People in Need combines community management of acute malnutrition and prevention with follow-up treatment and farming-oriented activities, such as gardening, planting of compatible crops, pest control or guinea pig raising. Other important aspects include dietary diversification trough own-produced crops, the reduction of food shortages as well as the improvement of hygiene conditions in the most vulnerable households.
In the rural areas where we work, local people’s knowledge about growing crops and gardening equipment availability are very limited despite appropriate climatic conditions for agricultural production. This is mainly due to the turbulent history of DR Congo, the country’s poor security and limited availability of goods from the cities. In these locations, thus prevails the cultivation of one crop - beans, corn, or manioc, which is of caloric value but nutritionally very weak. These crops then constitute the main part of local people’s diets. We are trying to expand local agricultural production to encompass other crops, such as spinach, and introduce new methods, such as separating crops in different lines, pest prevention, harvesting seeds for further use, etc. Culinary demonstrations then show the preparation of more nutritionally valuable meals. Together with better hygiene habits, people have a better chance in preventing the malnutrition of their children and alleviate the causes of diarrheal diseases.
As part of the treatment of malnutrition, we also raise awareness in the communities by presenting ways to recognize it early and then treat the affected children with therapeutic milk in health centres. It also includes ongoing training of health personnel and field community workers.
Small-scale livelihood provision
People in Need (PIN) provided aid to tens of women, victims of sexual violence, with the aim of improving their life situation and increasing their self-sufficiency. Tens of women received domestic animals or micro-financial support to run a small business such as selling fried fish on the market.
PIN supported an orphanage in the small town of Katana, which houses over one hundred children. The overall living conditions of these children has enhanced due to increased financial support. The orphanage is now provided fields for growing vegetables and legumes, and household animals to produce dairy products.
Access to safe water
Water sources abound in the warm, moist environment which is typical for the rainforest that covers eastern Congo. Our programs aim to identify the source, capture and ultimately to deliver drinking water in towns and villages in the region. Drinking water from sources on inaccessible slopes is drained into the reservoirs above the villages by using the gravitational system. Using a network of pipes, the water arrives at the distribution points in the villages. The water wells and distribution systems bring the drinking water directly to the villages, which among others contribute also to reducing the risk of sexual abuse of women and girls. It is the women and girls who are traditionally in charge of supplying water to the household.
Latrine construction in schools, health centers and public areas is another part of the program. PIN instructs teachers and medical staff in the prevention of infectious diseases. Health volunteers trained by People in Need implement community sensitization activities.
Along with these activities, PIN implements the national program of “Healthy villages” (Village Assaini). This program aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with waterborne diseases and lack of basic sanitation in rural areas by creating a healthy environment and the promotion of good practicesof individual and collective hygiene. After meeting seven basic criteria such as sufficient number of quality latrines or access to drinking water for the villagers, the village obtains a certificate of “healthy village” which is a very motivating matter. Thanks to PIN intervention, more than 30 villages successfully passed the process of certification.