The Democratic Republic of Congo remains one of the richest in terms of natural resources yet is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Its colonial history was savage. There was a failure to hand over any semblance of administrative and executive governance during the country’s pathway to Independence in 1960. The result is a tragic trail of dictators who, through corruption, have prospered while their people have struggled.
It’s in this environment that Permafund’s grant program has entered its 17th country by partnering with an NGO known as the Union of Women for Rural and Community Development which goes under the acronym UFEDERCO.
They’ve been operating in the region of South Kivu in the east of the DR Congo since 2015. They have a broad range of areas where they assist the most vulnerable women and children with food security and sustainable agriculture, legal and judicial assistance for victims of gender based sexual violence, the promotion of the environment, education and access to water.
The AU 2000 Grant Permafund provided went directly into starting food gardens in 2 primary schools. The project aims to fight against malnutrition in schools, improve the economic and social livelihoods of women in poor families and increase food and organic seed production to make the region more resilient toward food sovereignty.
Most of the budget was for the purchase of the initial seeds and equipment for making the garden beds. The materials were distributed to 700 students from the 2 schools as well as to 60 women farmers selected on need who then formed Permaculture committees to oversee the project. The main crops grown include cabbage, potatoes, eggplant, amaranth, onions, peppers, carrots, and dongodongo.
Also part of the project was a series of educational training related to Permaculture topics such as developing soil fertility and making organic pesticides. Over 70 marginal farmers were involved in this training.
This was an early report from the project which seems to be going well. The main outcomes will occur at harvest time, and then how well they can save the seeds so that the school gardens continue to go on year after year.
This is the type of project where Permaculture can make a big difference…..where the need is great. $2000 is allowing 700 children and over 100 women farmers to have a chance at a better quality of life by improving their nutrition. We’ll keep in contact with this group in the Congo and look forward to both further reports and maybe assisting them again in the future.
Fundraisers such as open gardens and community events to support Permafund’s micro-grant program are a wonderful help and are very much appreciated.
All gifts, tithes and donations made by individuals and businesses to the Permafund that are over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and are warmly welcomed.
Contributions to the Permafund can be made here. Many thanks.
For more information and to share fundraising ideas for Permafund please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Story by John Champagne, Chairman of the Permafund committee