Story by Reverend Marine Cizigire and Appolina Mapendano, nuns of the Daughters of the Resurrection, in the village of Miti, territory of Kabare, Province of South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. As told to F2F DRC Country Director Mergo Mbeya on June 13, 2017.
Before the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Project volunteer Julie Engel came into the picture, war and disease had a history of taking a toll on the rabbits belonging to the sisters of the Daughters of Resurrection. Located in the Province of South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, the sisters shared that in 1996, they lost all their rabbits due to war; in 2001, they lost all their rabbits to disease. Even with these challenges, they continued to pursue rabbitry to address food security and infant malnutrition.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), since then, one in ten persons living in rural areas in the DRC have been in a situation of food security and livelihood crisis. WFP also indicated that 43% of children in DRC have been chronically undernourished and show signs of stunting. Animal proteins like the rabbits the sisters were raising are key elements in nourishing Congolese children. However, the obstacles were daunting: prior to September 2016, the number of rabbits per kindling, or birth, was six kits, or young rabbits, per doe. The mortality rate was two to three kits out of six. The incidence of diseases in the rabbits was very high.
In September 2016, the nuns were excited to learn about the rabbit production training techniques offered by Julie Engel, a F2F Project volunteer. They were fortunate to get the tip about Julie from NGO AHUSADEC, a local NGO to the DRC F2F Project in the South Kivu province. Julie's presence was an opportunity for the sisters to acquire necessary knowledge and skills on rabbit management and production. The sisters invited Julie to visit their rabbitry so that she could share her experience. Julie explained the causes of diseases that attacked their rabbits, as well as control and prevention of these types of diseases to improve future rabbit health and conditions. Julie advised the sisters on rabbit nutrition, hygiene, habitat, and reproduction.
“About nine months after we implemented Julie's advice, we significantly reduced the mortality of rabbits…in April 2017, we had 330 rabbits. We never had this number of rabbits before [the] technical assistance by [F2F Project] volunteer Julie.” — Reverend Marine Cizigire and Appolina Mapendano, nuns of the Daughters of the Resurrection
Currently, the mortality rate is between zero and one rabbit kit out of six, down from two or three rabbit kits out of six. The rabbits no longer have incidence of diseases. At the time of Julie’s visit in September 2016, the nuns had 170 rabbits including the rabbit kits; in April 2017, they had 330 rabbits [a 94 percent increase]. Due to the technical assistance by F2F Project volunteer Julie, the sisters can generate income from the sale of rabbits, which is benefiting their program on infant and child malnutrition. The sisters are thankful for the invaluable technical assistance offered by Julie on behalf of the F2F Project.