New Humanity Movement

Health: Person, Environment




There is an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” This is the story of Achille Biffumbu and the community of Goma.

From Achille Biffumbu - Democratic Republic of the Congo

The peninsula of Buzi-Bulenga is a rural area in South Kivu around 20 minutes from Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Home to over 33,000 people in an 18 sq km area living exclusively on agriculture. The high demographic burden caused by conflicts and climate change because of severe drought resulting in the gradual erosion of soils and lower economic productivity in the area every year.

The poor local population do not have the means and knowledge to manage the land, to work the land and raise livestock effectively, they do not know how to respect and enhance the environment.  They do not have enough seeds, fertilizer, fishing equipment; furthermore their banana industry has been devastated by a disease that has prevented its development and trade.  There is also the problem of excessive logging that has been causing instability and impoverishment of the soil.

The life of our villages in fact is so linked to the relationship with nature and with the resources of the environment. Support and training of young people in these area is a priority: it is impossible to think of solving social challenges without respecting the environmental challenges. The men and women of my country should be aware of and know how to face agro-environmental challenges as well as social challenges so that we may be able to start off a new kind of development.  Learning how to properly manage the land has thus become a priority.

In this context a new project was started at my farm.  International Organizations and agencies that work for environmental protection and education have come together to work as partners. Ordinary educational programs in our schools, in fact, fail to enhance the professionalism of the young.  It was necessary to come together and implement new strategies to ensure adequate training is given to rural communities.

In a sense of brotherhood, which I share with the people of my village, I began to start projects for disadvantaged young people, such as orphans and former child soldiers, and train them as professionals who are capable of developing their own projects, initiate them, create them and be dedicated to their work. The approach has been to foster good relations with other farmers in the area. The knowledge and the choice of techniques locally available with regard to the cultivation of the fields would be shared with these young people and if effective would limit the requests for further external funding resulting to more debts and further poverty.

Students who attend the farm are asked to analyse the constraints and benefits of each type of crop, do the economic calculation as a function of time invested, the cost of factors of production and the cost of rent for the land. Knowledge sharing and solidarity in relations within the group has had the effect of creating the conditions for better learning and implementation of know-how in the land close to my farm, where young people can begin to grow their own crops.

Thanks to the support and involvement of some local and international associations, in 2010 the project has taken the form of Farm Agro - ecological (FEAGE) built on a plot of 2.5 hectares acquired with the help of the mayor of the place. The FEAGE has become a tool to foster local development and environmental protection.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others": the African proverb has it that you hardly can do anything alone. But together we have the power to create and change. I understood why I could not go ahead alone but to share and come together with others. I involved ten other people to work with me and support my project.

The hands-on approach for the assessment of the problems of the area, for the search of the best solutions and the means to implement them, the communication of this knowledge to the young proved to be an effective way to express the potential of our people at the highest level. We have addressed the various specific problems from the various villages of the region through the sharing of knowledge and so give the local organizations a hand to intervene in a precise socio-economic and environmental way.

A further step was the involvement of the local community (five villages) in understanding the theme of agro-environmental fragility of the soil and the environment which has a very strong impact on human health and poverty.

In November 2013 the project ECOBULENGA started.  Its aim was to promote the improvement of various production systems for small farmers, to understand climate change in the peninsula of Buzi – Bulenga and to improve the incomes and living conditions of the families of farmers, enhancing community facilities. The "network" among the farmers is allowing them to diversify crops, integrate the sources of their income, confronting climate change and natural events. We breed rabbits, laying hens and turkeys, all according to the criteria of organic farming.

The project benefits 1,110 farmers, while 2,796 families (approximately 16,776 people) are direct recipients of the developed watersheds and water supply.


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