Idjwi, an incubator for local development in South Kivu, DRC

Jun 20, 2017

Saouda, 23 years old, grows coffee together with her husband. The young couple has 250 coffee trees and also produces cassava and vegetables for their own consumption

The island of Idjwi is a land of green hills surrounded by the fresh waters of Lake Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With a surface of just 310 km², it is among the most populated areas of the country with a population of around 300 000.

There are few employment opportunities on the island. More than 80 % of its inhabitants work in the informal sector, living off agriculture, fishing and farming.

Because of its isolation, the territory is a haven of peace in the East of the DRC. Idjwi has often welcomed refugees fleeing violence, such as the survivors of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. But immigration and overpopulation have resulted in a vast deforestation of the island. Asa consequence, soil erosion is impacting crop yields and malnutrition plagues many families.

To fight poverty, diversify livelihoods and strengthen ties between Pygmy and Bantu communities on the island, the government of Japan and UNDP partnered to launch a rapid response programme for social cohesion and economic recovery.

500 temporary jobs were created to cultivate terraced crops. Combined with reforestation, agricultural terraces are very effective in combatting erosion and bringing back soil fertility.

“Our territory is well positioned for sustainable development projects and can serve as a pilot experience. We have continued security; and the population is hardworking and united ” Mr. Karongo Kalajo Kadiyo, administrator of the Idjwi territory.

Soil depletion and the lack of organization in the coffee sector in the previous decades have negatively affected the production and quality of the main cash crop of the island. But times are changing!

Created in 2011, the Kivu Cooperative of Coffee Planters and Traders (CPNCK) supports and coordinates the work of 672 coffee farmers, 317 of which are women.

The members have access to eight small coffee treatment plants to pool their production efforts. The cooperative is backed by ONG VECO, a project partner supported by Japan and UNDP.

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