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DR Congo: Women use appropriate technology to fight poverty

Kikwiti, Congo The Democratic Republic Social 19 May 2023

II.The Problem

High levels of poverty pervade the lives of citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa. Women are the most affected. For years, the economic situation of these women has been deplorable. More than 60 percent of them are dependent on their husbands or third parties. Unable to send their children to school.

As a result of this poverty, many women or even young girls engage in prostitution, which sometimes leads them to catch sexually transmitted diseases. This situation further complicates their lives, as it is difficult to get treatment.

According to a study conducted a few years ago, 51.8 percent of the Congolese population are women. But they are among the people who live on less than a dollar a day.

III.The Solution

Gathered within associations, several women from Kikwit, an economic and political town in the Kwilu province in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are increasingly resorting to appropriate local technology to reduce this great poverty, to promote their empowerment, to improve the well-being of their families, and to educate their children. A solution that has been hailed by human rights advocates.

IV. How does this response work? What steps are involved?

The first step is "Training". Platforms such as REFEKI (Réseau des femmes engagées de Kikwit), MOCC (Mouvement ouvrier chrétien du Congo), UNAF (Union nationale des Femmes), etc. provide training for women by teaching them, over a period of two or three months, how to make soaps from palm oil, caustic soda, dyes, etc.; how to make orange juice; how to make wine from ferns in the forest; how to make improved breads; and how to make peanut-based milk.

The second step is the practical phase in the form of a training course followed by trainers to correct errors. This internship lasts between two or three weeks depending on the case.

The third step is the training in financial management.
The fourth step is the release of the learners so that each one can apply the acquired knowledge at home and become autonomous.

The fifth step is the follow-up. Here, the trainers follow the trained women in their activities in order to see the impact in their daily lives; to see the progress made etc.

V. Evidence of impact

The great proof first is the change and progress observed in the lives of the trained women beneficiaries who are operational.

Secondly, it is the testimonies of these women beneficiaries. Example:

"Thanks to the sale of the products we make in our structure, I manage to pay for the children's schooling, buy clothes, pay the rent and meet several needs... Things that were not possible at the time when I was not yet in the circuit of appropriate technology," says, happy, Justine Kakesa, president of the Dynamique de la jeunesse féminine congolaise (DJFC, Bandundu section), a non-governmental organization based in Kikwit".

Finally some pictures.

VI. Varied sources to consult
- Women's associations in action;
- Women beneficiaries;
- Political and administrative authorities;
- Human rights defenders;
- The population etc.
To reach them, I will start by identifying the structures of the women concerned. Then, make an appointment by contacting them by phone. Finally take the transport (motorcycle cab or car cab) to arrive; investigate; Write the story.
VII. Challenges
1. Multiple state taxes in relation to training structures ;
2. The regular increase in commodities (caustic soda; palm oil; dyes; wheat flour, yeast etc.) that help to make some products to sell;
3. The limited funding that training structures receive from donors;
4. Etc.
I can still explore other initiatives that address poverty as required by Goal 1 of the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) besides appropriate technology.
VIII. Timeline for the story
All work via all stages can take 12 days:
1. Identification of the concerned structures (3 days);
2. Planning the investigation: (1 day);
3. Investigation as such (Field trip, contact of sources, interviews, taking of pictures): 6 days;
4. Writing the article, proofreading, correcting and sending: 2 days
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