With Pact’s support, a mother in DRC builds peace and fights poverty through farming

March 22, 2023
Perpetue Ramazani at her field. Credit: Franck Kaseya/Pact

Perpetue Ramazani, 45, has long farmed in her rural village in Tanganyika, in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But her yields of cassava were barely enough to sustain her and her husband and their eight children. They certainly weren’t enough to sell to generate income.

Perpetue explains that she lacked the farming skills to grow more food. There was another problem, too. In her village, Mtoa, conflict between the Twa and Bantu people hindered productive agriculture.

“We could not cultivate quietly because of the tensions that reigned in our village, quite simply because some cultivated and others regularly burst into the fields of others to monopolize their crops,” she says.

Today, the situation has changed dramatically, thanks to the Tanganyika Conflict Mitigation and Reconciliation project, or TCMR. Led by Pact and funded by USAID, TCMR is working to reduce conflict between the Twa and Bantu people by strengthening peace and reconciliation efforts in DRC’s Nyunzu, Kalemie, Manono and Kabalo communities. The project is building cooperation and co-existence between the Twa and Bantu, strengthening conflict mitigation mechanisms and resolution processes for peacebuilding, and improving livelihoods through social cohesion and collaboration.

Perpetue became involved in TCMR in 2019, a time when her family was barely surviving. The project was offering training for local farmers on how to sustainably grow tomatoes, cabbage, cassava and other crops – along with raising livestock and aquaculture – to help women feed their families and generate income for more financial autonomy. The effort also intentionally brought together Twa and Bantu community members to collaborate in agriculture to build trust and cooperation among the groups.

“I had no knowledge of good farming practices,” Perpetue says. “I just had a small field of cassava that I cultivated. It was when I wondered how I could manage to survive with my family that the Pact team came to our village.”

Perpetue picks a tomato from her field. Credit: Franck Kaseya/Pact

Encouraged by her husband, Perpetue excelled in the trainings and soon received seeds and farming tools through TCMR. She began growing a range of crops more successfully than she ever had before. Now in her ninth tomato harvest, she has earned enough from canning and selling them to invest in a much larger cassava field. Working together with her husband, she turns her yield into cassava flour that they sell. 

The family’s income is now more than enough to provide food, health care and education for their children, and Perpetue and her neighbors farm in peace.

“Initiating all of us Twa and Bantu to do farming has contributed enormously to the reduction of poverty and hunger but also the reduction of conflict,” Perpetue says. “Now, as everyone is doing their field, peace reigns. We do a lot of things together. Without Pact, this would have been just a dream that would never have come true.”

As for her family’s future, Perpetue says they have much to look forward to. She is passing her skills onto her children for the benefit of the next generation. One of her sons and one of her daughters have decided to study agronomy at university to learn even more.

“University studies were not a privilege for me, but thanks to Pact, I will send my children to study despite the cost, because I have to reassure myself that my children will have a better future and one day come back to help our village.”

Perpetue wants more for other families, too. In addition to passing down her skills and experience to her children, she is sharing them with other women so that together they can contribute to the development of their village. Unity is strength, she says.