DR Congo: Youth at Chem Chem Youth Center have access to clean, safe water through Salesian Missions

By Mission Newswire

Children, young mothers and pregnant women now have access to safe, clean drinking water thanks to a water project funded by donors through Salesian Missions “Clean Water Initiative.” The project is impacting 150 youth living at the Salesian Chem Chem Youth Center, located in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the surrounding population of more than 2,000.

The project sought funds to drill a motorized well, build supports for plastic tanks and install a solar-powered immersion pump. With the project complete, young women and children will no longer have to travel far distances in search of clean water. This water project is the second to take place at the Chem Chem center. In 2017, funding was provided to upgrade the existing water system at the agriculture training center at Chem Chem to allow proper quantities of clean water for students. This was accomplished by deepening the existing well, erecting a water tower and installing two 2,500-liter water tanks.

Those attending the Chem Chem Youth Center are youth who are unable to finish normal training in secondary schools and who are unable to find a job. Without living at the center and accessing education, particularly farming education, they would not have the opportunity to prepare for the future and find stable employment.

UN-Water estimates that worldwide 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and by 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people, pushing global water demand up to 30 percent higher than today. One in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with students using unprotected water sources or going thirsty. In addition, UN-Water notes that more than 700 children under 5 years of age die every day from diarrheal disease linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.

In response to this crisis, Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, has made building wells and supplying fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work. The project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is just one of many that have been completed, with more in process.

“Water is essential for life, and it’s critical that Salesian programs around the globe have access to safe, clean water for the health and safety of those we serve,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “Improving water and sanitation facilities brings a sense of dignity to children and ensures that teachers and students are working and learning in an environment that promotes proper hygiene and has safe drinking water. This reduces the number of waterborne illnesses that can affect those in our schools, keeping them away from important study time.”

Despite its vast material wealth, the Democratic Republic of Congo has long been a very poor nation. Half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than $1 a day, especially those in rural communities. Because of ongoing strife and violence within the country, more than 8.5 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, a figure that’s expected to increase. More than 4.1 million Congolese are now displaced with 620,000 seeking refuge in neighboring countries. More than 7.5 million people do not have enough food to eat.

Salesian missionaries have been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than 100 years ensuring that the most vulnerable children are not forgotten. Salesian primary and secondary schools and programs lay the foundation for early learning while Salesian trade, vocational and agricultural programs offer many youth the opportunity for a stable and productive future.

Source Mission Newswire

Youth To Benefit From New Partnership To Boost Financial Inclusion In DRC

Farmers, youth, women and small businesses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will gain better access to financial services following the launch of a new project between FSD Africa and Equity Bank Congo.

The three-year US$2.8 million project will train and enroll at least 4,000 people to become bank agents across 22 of DRC’s 26 provinces. Once trained, the “Equity Cash Express” agents will help unbanked populations in rural areas gain better access to financial services including savings accounts, credit and micro-insurance products.

Agency banking, where local people are trained to provide banking services, is proving to be a viable approach for increasing financial inclusion in previously underserved areas. By 2021, the project aims to have opened one million new savings accounts, approved 10,000 loans and issued 5,000 new insurance products. A large proportion of these products will be opened by farmers and small businesses who until now have had limited access to formal financial services.

Poor infrastructure, a large geography and a prolonged civil war means financial inclusion rates in DRC remain low. Out of a population of 88 million, more than 25 million remain excluded from the financial system, while only 14 per cent of people have an account at a financial institution.

While financial institutions have expanded their branch network in recent years, access to financial services remains limited once outside DRC’s key economic zones of Kinshasa, Matadi, Lubumbashi, Kivu and Goma. Only seven per cent of Congolese are employed within the formal sector, with the remainder working in the informal economy. With limited access to financial services, those working within the informal sector have limited ability to weather political, environmental and economic instability or access capital to grow their businesses or pay for emergencies like unexpected health costs.

Paul Musoke, Director, Financial Institutions, FSD Africa said: “We know that when people in fragile states, like DRC, have better access to financial services their lives improve, and the economy grows. FSD Africa is supporting Equity Bank’s vision of providing inclusive financial services to all. This project will increase access to finance for previously unserved and underserved customers in DRC, improving their livelihoods and resilience while demonstrating the potential of agency banking in a fragile and conflict affected state such as DRC. ”

Celestin Mukeba, Managing Director of Equity Bank Congo said: “At Equity Bank Congo, we have been implementing state-of-the-art Agency Banking technology for over three years. Today we have more than 2,100 accredited agents, working across Kinshasa, central Kongo, Bandundu, the two Kivus and Grand Katanga. Our new service, “Equity Cash Express”, will allow our clients to carry out banking transactions quickly, easily and safely via our network of accredited agents.

Thanks to “Multipay”, Equity Cash Express will also give customers of three other partner banks the opportunity to make withdrawals. Our authorized agents can be traders, food stores, pharmacies and other forms of shop, throughout the DRC.

This new local service will reduce the cost of banking transactions for our clients, and generate additional income for our Equity Bank agents, who will earn paid commissions from working with us. Our partnership with FSD Africa will support us to expand our services across the country, benefiting our bank and our customers in the long-term.”

Source Busiweek

AfDB and ILO Launch Decent Rural Employment Promotion Scheme for Young Farmers in Central Africa

(Business in Cameroon) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Labor Office (ILO) are organizing from February 12 to 14, in Brazzaville, Congo, a workshop themed “unlocking the potential of rural economies through investment in the skills development and employability of youth in the agricultural sector in Central Africa”.

The meeting, AfDB says, aims to deepen talks on ongoing initiatives at the global, sub-regional (Cameroon, DR Congo, Chad, Gabon, etc.) and national levels in order to define strategic axes for the promotion of decent work for youth in the rural economy. Further, it is also an opportunity for social partners and sectoral ministry officials to better understand such strategies and better know how to deploy them.

The findings will enable the 150 participants expected to have tools to facilitate the identification of activities that generate productive employment in agriculture and the rural economy and thus ensure better support for companies and young people working in the sector.

AfDB indicates that agriculture is a mainstay for the development ambitions for productive sectors in Central African countries by 2030.

Source Business In Cameroon