East Congo: Amkeni Tunfaye Kazi

WAR VICTIMS TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR OWN DESTINY THROUGH SELF HELP GROUPS. THE PROGRAM AMKENI TUNFAYE KAZI (ATK) FOCUSES ON SOCIOECONOMIC SECURITY FOR AT LEAST 60,000 PEOPLE IN THE CONGOLESE PROVINCE OF SOUTH KIVU. THEY ARE THE VICTIM OF SEVERE CIVIL WARS. THE GOVERNMENT IN THIS AREA IS BARELY FUNCTIONAL. THROUGH SO-CALLED SELF HELP GROUPS, THE PROJECT SUPPORTS CITIZENS IN WORKING ON THE RECONSTRUCTION THEMSELVES.

Self help groups are a tried and tested concept for situations where there are few or no public facilities. A PerspActive consortium wants to support people through these groups to raise their own income and provide for education and health care. The name Amkeni Tunfaye Kazi means 'let’s arise and get to work’. Self help groups offer the participants, about fifteen men and women per group, the opportunity to invest in their (agricultural) business.

All members make regular contributions. The group gives out loans from the joint funds. But the groups also offer the opportunity to learn together. For instance reading and writing, but also agricultural innovations and setting up businesses. The idea is for groups to function in a way where individuals share their knowledge and experience with several people.

The self help groups also prove to be a suitable setting to practice conflict management. There is a great need for this. Decades of fighting have caused a deep divide within the population. There are also always lurking conflicts on property rights. Through the groups, people also present a united front to the government to claim their rights and insist on improvements. This especially works when various groups unite and work in larger clusters.

WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
The consortium also ensures that young people, women and people with disabilities also have access to the project. Especially for young people, the self help groups provide an alternative to the armed militias. ATK is a program of the Salvation Army, Leprazending (Leprosy Mission) and Red een Kind (Save a child). The Salvation Army is active in education in the Congo. Leprazending works in health care and in supporting people with disabilities. Red een kind has a lot of expertise in the field of self help groups.

The organizations have years of experience in the Congo. For the project they use the Integral Farmers Plan. This is a method that uses the own needs and opportunities of farmers in developing countries as a starting point. The concept was developed by Wageningen University. It has achieved good results in Burundi. Increasing food security decreases the threat of violence and the stream of refugees. East Congo, where South Kivu is located, is the setting of a bloody history of civil wars. This is where one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies in the world took place. Thirteen million people need emergency aid. Four and a half million citizens fled their homes.