ActionAid’s work in the DRC has shown that land not only provides a means of subsistence, but also offers a unique source of happiness. The women AA DRC works with, report that farming on their own land builds their confidence, enabling them to be recognized as people who can contribute effectively in making decisions in their homes and at the community level due to their economic power. When they have their own land, we have seen women overcome traditional customs to participate for the first time in community meetings where decisions are made for the entire community.
ActionAid has therefore been working with women in our communities, with support from our local partners and the women of the communities with whom we work to re-educate traditional and elected leaders in women’s rights and land rights.
To date, we have received overwhelmingly positive responses at all levels. Over 20 heads of rural districts and local village leaders, as well as the head of the Nyiragongo Territory, the head of land in the North Kivu Province and the Provincial Minister of Justice in North Kivu have all started supporting women to access land.
After visiting two women who had their lands taken during the rebellion in 2004, the Munigi Chefferie Chief shared his changed view, stating,
“I understand that if women have access to land, they can provide food for their families and the whole community. Women are most active in farming activities in our village. Therefore, there is an urgent need to increase women’s access to land for the benefit of the entire community of Munigi Chefferie.”
AA DRC and our partners also support women to bring their cases to court when land is unjustly taken away from them, and we have seen great success.
Marie-Claire Siuzike, a farmer in the Kibumba village shared, “My five hectares of land that was taken by traditional leaders in Nyiragongo territory in 2002 was finally returned to me after court judgement. Thanks to advocacy support from ActionAid DRC and its implementing partner, Association des Facilitateurs pour le Development Integrale.”
In addition to regaining what is rightfully theirs, accessing land enables women to meet the nutritional needs and educational expenses of their children, among many other benefits, bettering the entire community.
Currently, over 2,000 women have gained access and control over land with the support of AA DRC and partners with an average of two hectares per woman.
Given the importance of the agricultural sector and women’s involvement in it, in the face of the changing climate, AA DRC continues to work to address women’s priorities in agriculture and promoting their leadership role, while promoting sustainable agriculture including market access. 100 women farmers were trained in modern farming techniques using local and appropriate resources to make farming more relevant to them.
AA DRC has also provided the women with seedlings and water harvesting equipment to reduce the drudgery that they go through in getting water onto their farm lands in Kisenso. Through networks at the territorial level, women will be supported with trainings on storing, packaging and selling their farm products at competitive prices.
Over the last three months, AA DRC has supported approximately 500 women in Nyiragongo territory in North Kivu province, and over 1000 women in the Idjwi and Kabare territories in South Kivu Province with livestock and husbandry training, along with training on resource management and business plan creatio.
Some of the women also benefit from a revolving loan fund.