ore than 500 women belong to the women’s group in Kasugho, which is part of the Congolese Women’s Cooperative for Community Conservation and Development (CWCCD). They are all single mothers, many of whom lost their husbands in the war or fell victim to rape by rebels or soldiers. This project empowers women to help themselves provide for their families. Group members live in extreme poverty and small-scale agriculture or foraging in the forest had been their only source of food until they started the women’s group.
Promoting an Alternative to Bushmeat
GRACE supports an initiative that provides alternative sources of food as well as a small income for these women. They are planting vegetable gardens and learning how to care for and breed rabbits, chickens, and guinea pigs. The women benefit from the animal project by getting access to a domestic protein source, meaning they will no longer need to hunt for bushmeat. Hunting is a dangerous activity for women in this area because women are sometimes raped and abused by men when they are found alone in the forest. Gorillas and other wildlife benefit as well because hunting pressure will be reduced if another, more easily obtained protein source is promoted. Members of the Kasugho women’s group will also be able to earn an income from selling eggs, meat, and the offspring of the animals they raise. This income will allow them to send their children to school, a luxury that many families currently do not have. This model project could be passed on to other communities with a similar benefit for the people and environment near those communities.