Three hundred (300) people including; children, parents, youth, professionals and religious leaders gathered for consultative meetings and a focus group discussion in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 17 October 2018.
The consultative meetings and the discussion served to share experiences and suggest possible solutions towards ending poverty in the community. The meetings were organised by the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) in DRC and BIFERRD organization in commemoration of the International Day for Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), 2018. Participants expressed lack of peace, due to ongoing armed conflicts as one of the major causes of poverty in the region. They complained that the conflicts have had drastic impacts on the economy and development of the country. For instance, food production has been affected with farmers witnessing first-hand the disruption of agricultural land and its production.
“We cannot have access to our lands for cultivation because of the active armed groups,” complained one of the parents.
Violence, more so to women and children, has also affected learning in institutions to the extent that children can no longer go to schools or even seek proper healthcare, factors that are vital in a child’s upbringing and if absent, cause a child to live in poverty. When children were given an opportunity to share their experiences of poverty, their sentiments got everyone’s attention. They said due to lack of peace they become more vulnerable to violence, abandonment, without basic needs and sometimes trafficking; factors which leave them in poverty.
As a step towards self-sustainability, the community shared their efforts on mitigating poverty including starting a microfinance system, Village Savings and Loans (VSLA); which aims to help individuals increase their incomes and capital, and expand their local businesses. The VSLA however called onto organizations to partner with them in realizing their goals. The effects of poverty are so devastating, even more so when poverty affects children. It should be our duty to collectively end poverty. Through lobbying, grassroots actions, advocacy and policy making.