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Development project 12 of 16
Title
Engaging Women in Development
Location
Communities around Kahuzi-BiƩga National Park, DR Congo
Gorillas
Eastern lowland gorillas
Local Partner:   AFECOD
Description

In the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, DR Congo, the population of eastern lowland gorillas has been decimated by habitat destruction, and with fewer than 3,000 individuals remaining worldwide, they are steadily being pushed towards extinction. To reduce human pressure on the park, the Gorilla Organization began working with AFECOD (Association de Femmes pour la Conservation et la Developpement Durable) in 2001, engaging women in local communities in livestock rearing and sustainable agriculture to give them the skills needed to improve their livelihoods and protect the environment.

The overall objective of the project is to reduce human pressure on the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, securing the long-term survival of the eastern lowland gorilla. The specific objectives are:

  • To train women in sustainable farming techniques, including livestock rearing, and provide the necessary seeds, tools and livestock
  • To establish a system by which livestock are reared and distributed to further beneficiaries
  • To improve livelihoods through the sale of crops to generate income
  • To improve health through the growth of better quality crops and the reduction of protein malnutrition

 

Progress

When the project began, the women living in the communities surrounding the national park were provided with just 11 pigs. Since this time, they have been trained in how to rear and care for small livestock, and to date over 350 pigs have been bred and redistributed through the project. Goats are also being reared, and their numbers have multiplied in a similar way. The distribution of pigs and goats has become increasingly sustainable, especially since each woman that receives livestock must return half of the offspring to AFECOD for redistribution. This facilitates extension of the project and increases the number of women benefiting.

In addition to livestock, the women have also been provided with 5.5 hectares of land, seeds and agricultural tools, and training in sustainable farming techniques has given them the skills needed to successfully grow crops, including sweet potato, cassava, beans and maize. AFECOD have also been able to introduce an organic aspect to the project, for example, using manure produced by the livestock as natural fertiliser.

Since project implementation, over 400 women have benefited, and activities have extended so that there are now 12 communities involved. The project has had a huge impact on the socio-economic status of the local communities, with several of the women being able to support their children through school for the first time, while others have been able to secure some land for themselves.

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