Farming in Lekoumou
The Republic of Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has a population of 4.6 million people whereof nearly 40% lives on less than $1.90 per day.Lekoumou is a district in the south of the country. It has about 80.000 inhabitants whom mostly depend on agriculture for a living. The primary crops grown in Lekoumou are cassava, bananas and peanuts. Most farmers do not have much knowledge onfarming techniques and lack the proper equipment which means they are financially vulnerable. Especially women in Lekoumou live under difficult circumstances. Only 3.6% of women in the district own a house and not even four percent own any other kind of property.
The Salvation Army started a two-year project in order to empower women in Lekoumou to become self-sufficient. A women’s farming cooperative was set up to provide 50 widows with a farmers training and the opportunity to use a piece of land to plant and harvest crops.The cooperative helps to support the women themselves and their children, but due to its seasonality, they are unable to generate income during a portion of the year when the land lays fallow. That is why the Salvation Army will also help to address long term financial needs through the creation of village saving and loans associations. The women in the Lekoumou Division will have the opportunity to save money as a group and to take out loans from their savings. The loans will then be reimbursed with interest, thereby increasing the pot of savings. At the end of the year, the funds will be shared amongst the participants and each member will have earned interest on their savings. By having two sources of income, the women are encouraged to become more self-sufficient.