People in Need: Efforts to Protect the Most Vulnerable in the Isolated Territory of Shabunda

Published: Oct 20, 2022 Reading time: 2 minutes
Demonstration culinaire dans la zone de santé de Shabunda
© Foto: Neville Bukize

Kinshasa/ 7 October 2022: Shabunda territory in South Kivu province is a remote and isolated region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), lacking road infrastructure and humanitarian assistance. Food insecurity remains a structural and cyclical phenomenon in the region due to recurrent armed conflicts and prolonged economic and social instability. People in Need (PIN), with support from USAID's (Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), recently completed a one-year project to provide food assistance, agricultural recovery, and nutritional support in the Shabunda and Lulingu health zones to approximately 33,234 of the most vulnerable people in these two health zones of Shabunda territory.

In December 2020, a new wave of internal displacement in the region followed an upsurge in clashes between different armed groups. In this context, between July 2021 and June 2022, PIN conducted a project to address the food security needs of 19,200 of the most vulnerable people, including about 9,600 IDPs, in the Shabunda and Lulingu health zones.

At the same time, the PIN organised food fairs and provided 747 displaced households, or 4,613 people, with unconditional in-kind food kits, consisting of essential items such as flour, beans, oil, salt and rice, to cover household food needs for three months. The project also helped 17,289 beneficiaries adopt improved farm management and farming technologies, including the establishment of 75 demonstration fields in the six health zones supported by the project.

To support these activities, the PIN also organised several awareness-raising sessions in beneficiary communities, covering topics such as agricultural practices for better harvests, as well as appropriate nutrition and feeding practices for children under five. These awareness campaigns and community engagement activities have enabled beneficiaries to proactively adopt sustainable agricultural practices and have improved household awareness of child nutritional needs.

The project showed that among 80 % of beneficiary households, women are regularly involved in household management, including decision-making on the use and distribution of food aid within their families. The community-elected targeting committees in each village, as well as the demonstration field committees, were composed in a gender-sensitive manner: 43 % women and 57 % men. During distribution and other group activities, vulnerable people, such as people with disabilities, pregnant and lactating women, and people with signs of chronic illnesses affected by the crisis (people with special needs), were given priority at the distribution sites.

Isolated and under constant threat of violence

For more than a decade, Shabunda has experienced recurrent conflicts between local armed groups vying for control over territory and resources. These clashes regularly lead to incursions in local villages, prompting widespread displacement as armed groups loot and abduct civilians, as well as recruit young people into their ranks.

PIN has operated in the DRC for more than a decade. We support agriculture and other activities which improve the availability of quality and nutrient-dense food. With the assistance of USAID/BHA, PIN strives to protect lives, reduce human suffering, and strengthen the resilience of the conflict-affected populations in DRC via integrated food and agriculture interventions. 

Autor: Zawadi Izabayo, Karolina Sugarova

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