DR Congo: UN hatches new scheme to boost nutrition for displaced
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has set up a new chicken-rearing and egg producing project to improve the nutrition of some of the neediest internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the volatile North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The project, in partnership with Veterinaires sans Frontieres (VSR), seeks to raise the self-sufficiency of the displaced though the consumption and sale of poultry products.
It kicked off last November in the UNHCR-run Bulengo IDP site – situated in an area where there are 800,000 displaced people, half of whom were forced to flee their homes last year – focusing on abused women, the disabled, the elderly, the young and female-headed households.
UNHCR and VSR selected 150 families to kick off the scheme, and each was given 20 egg-laying hens, feed, medicines and help to build hutches and chicken runs.
But because many of the region’s inhabitants are used to raising chickens at home as opposed to commercially, both organizations noted that they had to change the mindset of the participants to see chickens as commodities to be consumed, traded or used to produce eggs.
“I sell the eggs and make extra cash,” said Hangi Kyanakera, 70. “The profits buy us a variety of foodstuffs.”
Participants now have disposable income to spend on such items as school uniforms for their children, extra food or small luxuries for their homes.
Some days, those taking part in the project say they harvest as many as 40 eggs, and UNHCR and VSR have both said they are delighted with the results after a two-month trial and will extend the initiative to 250 people living in the Buhimba camp.
The organizations hope that the IDPs can apply the skills garnered during the scheme in the future after the security situation improves. UNHCR also plans to train the poultry farmers in making feed from kitchen leftovers in a bid to ensure their sustainability and self-sufficiency in the longer term.
Despite its successes, the programme has faced some problems, primarily the delayed delivery of feed and drugs, which must be flown to North Kivu’s capital Goma and then delivered by truck in a remote, strife-torn area.