RURAL MICROFINANCE AND HEALTH, a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experience

Rural villagers living in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have experienced human rights violations disrupting life and disseminating communities.

The genocide in neighboring Rwanda, coupled with the collapse of the Mobutu government (1997) spawned two wars and over two decades of warfare throughout the region, resulting in millions of deaths in what is the deadliest conflict since World War II.

The use of violence and torture as a weapon of war in the DRC, where rebels and soldiers subject women, men and children to brutalizing attacks, rape, torture, and mutilation is a human rights abuse. Survivors of the conflict are often further traumatized by extreme poverty, disease, stigma and social isolation. Engaging in both health and social initiatives is critical for improving health outcomes.

Congolese families and communities are demonstrating resilience in rebuilding their futures, through active participation in the two Congolese livestock/animal microfinance initiatives: Pigs for Peace and Rabbits for Resilience.

Through the leadership of Mitima Mpanano Remy, Director of Programme d’Appui aux Initiatives Economiques (PAIDEK) and Dr. Nancy Glass, Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Associate Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health exciting initiatives are underway to improve the economic security and health of individuals and families living in rural villages in South Kivu.

This collaboration and partnership is emblematic of the innovation and alliances required to tackle the complex health and social problems challenging global health.

Paidek receives prestigious 2014 Taylor and Francis Award in Capetown, South Africa recognizing the innovation and importance of Pigs for Peace and Rabbits for Resilience in improving the health of women and girls

For more information on the presentation and the conference
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Promising findings from the Pigs for Peace Livestock Microfinance Program in DR Congo

Glass, N., Perrin, N., Kohli, A., Mpanano, M.R. and the Pigs for Peace team.

Background: In the context of multiple adversities, families demonstrate resilience in rebuilding their futures through participation in microfinance programs. In addition to the economic benefits of microfinance, there is evidence that it is an effective vehicle for improving health and decreasing violence. The study presents findings from Pigs for Peace (PFP), a livestock microfinance program in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that focuses on sustainable development to reduce the negative outcomes associated with prolonged conflict.

Methods: The study evaluates the effectiveness of PFP on health, economic and social outcomes with households in 10 villages in rural DRC. Households are randomized to PFP intervention or control group and one member of the household who is designated as responsible for the pig loan completes 4 interviews over 24 months. The analysis presents change in outcomes over 12 months.

Findings: The majority of 878 (79.2% women) participants are 25 years or older, married, have on average 4 children and have never attended school. At baseline, participants report on average 3.97 (3.57) traumatic events (range 0-18) over the past 10 years. The majority of participants described their general health as fair or poor. Participant reported symptoms consistent with PTSD with a mean score of 2·25 (SD=0·66, range 0-4) and depression with a mean score of 1.81 (SD =0·48, range 0-3.47). Further, 23.4% of women report physical/sexual IPV and 26.0% report psychological abuse. At 12 months, participants in PFP reported significantly improved general health compared to participants in the control group (p=.002). PFP group reported reduced symptoms consistent with PTSD and depression compared to control women. Women in PFP reported experiencing significantly less controlling behavior and psychological abuse compared to control women (p=.012). At 12 months, there was a reduction in physical and sexual violence, however, the reduction was not significantly different from control group

Interpretation: Findings are promising and expand evidence on the importance of addressing social determinants of health by implementing sustainable community led microfinance programs to improve health and prevent violence in low resource, post-conflict settings.

The Pigs for Peace team presented the work as documented in the abstract above. Mr. Mitima Mpanano Remy and the PFP team won "Best Research" presentation at the 2015 conference

Link to the conference is: