Pigs for Peace and Rabbits for Resilience: Congolese livestock/animal microfinance initiatives

[Photo credit: PFP]

Submitted by Professor Nancy Glass, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Mitima Mpanano Remy, Director-PAIDEK microfinance 

Pigs for Peace and Rabbits for Resilience were started by Mitima Mpanano Remy, Director of Programme d’Appui aux Initiatives Economiques (PAIDEK) and Dr. Nancy Glass, Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) to improve the economic security and health of individuals and families living in rural villages in South Kivu province of DRC.

Pigs for Peace (PFP) is a Congolese-led, community- based livestock microfinance program that works with male and female adults to provide loans in the form of animals to rural villagers who have experienced conflict and economic instability. The project began in 2008. It builds on traditional forms of employment and engage individuals, families and the communities, and aims to improve health, economic stability, and family and community relationships in rural eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2012, Rabbits for Resilience (RFR) was started in rural Walungu Territory in the South Kivu province of DRC as a response to requests from parents/caregivers to develop positive activities for youth. Parents described youth as needing improved developmental opportunities, increased engagement in their family and community and regularly attend and participate in school.

Rabbits for Resilience: Small animal microfinance with young adolescents in rural DRC

Rabbits for Resilience is a small animal microfinance program that works with male and female youth, aged 10-15 years, and their adult parents/caregivers. Youth members, identified with the assistance and consent of their parents, express an interest and commitment in the program including building a cage for their rabbit, providing food and health care, participating in monthly group meetings and repaying their loan. Youth members receive a 2-4 month old female rabbit. When the rabbit gives birth, the youth member repays the loan to the project in the form of 2 female rabbits, which are then used as new loans to other youth in the village. Youth and their parents receive support from each other during the group meetings and from our trained Congolese microfinance agents through supportive home visits and monthly meetings.

We (PAIDEK and JHUSON) are currently conducting an impact evaluation of Rabbits for Resilience. We are working with 515 families (youth and their parents/caregivers). The first group of rabbits were successfully distributed in May of 2014 and we are currently conducting interviews with participating youth and parents/caregivers at 25-months post baseline to determine the outcomes on health, relationships, food security and school attendance. 

Why Rabbits?

We provide loans in the form of a rabbit because:

  •  Rabbits are easy for youth to raise while participating in school and family and community activities.
     
  •  Rabbits reproduce frequently.
     
  •  Food for rabbits is widely available in the villages.
     
  •  There are no cultural taboos, age or gender-based responsibilities for raising or selling rabbits.
     
  •  Rabbits are a good source of protein and support food security for the youth and their family

If you are interested in learning more about Rabbits for Resilience or our other project, Pigs for Peace, please check out www.pigsforpeace.org.

Mr. Mitima Mpanano Remy and the Pigs for Peace team won "Best Research" presentation at SVRI Forum 2015

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