Local Solutions to Local Problems in Africa

Valerie Piron


L'"Institut de la Vie" has developed different projects in Africa, in the region of the Great Lakes. The objective is to bring local solutions to local problems. These projects come within the framework of sustainable development, with the will(power) to implicate the local actors.


The first project (Supporting sustainable development in Rwanda : "(using) waste as raw material") takes place in Rwanda (1996-2000). The idea to reinvest the waste in human activity : agriculture, craft industry, energy production in order to avoid that the waste becomes a cause of pollution. This project has benefited by the experience of many other countries confronted to the same situation. As a matter of fact, some guests from Europe but also from Africa (Egypt, Uganda, Cameroon, Senegal, Burundi) participated to a workshop taking place in Kigali in the presence of the representatives of the ministries, local associations (mainly women's claims associations), Kigali's prefecture, etc The aim of the workshop was the training by exchange of experience, and the aim of the project was to manage the problem of the waste at every step of the "waste cycle". That project is still being developed.


The second project (1999) took place in Kivu (République Démocratique du Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo) where the local farmers are aware that they have to produce by themselves what they need. Actions carried out at the "Case du paysan" (the farmer's cabin) also called "Kagala" concerned many groups of cattle breeders and farmers. There, some people called "les sachant" (the wise ones) created a kind of 'research teams' to answer to the needs being expressed in that specific environment : "treat four times", which means treat the man, treat the animal, treat the plant and treat the earth. Meetings where organised between the farmers in particular places where there was an exchange of "Knowledge" and "Goods". Since 1998, women can sit with men; they are more specifically concerned by food crops. The distinctive feature of that region is the integration of the animal husbandry and farming via the use of manure.


Treating the man is a requirement forced on the Kagala by the stockbreeders. Since they recovered their livestock in good health, they demanded to use the plants to treat the men.

In fact, the livestock was partly treated with medicinal plants.


For the health of the plants, tobacco-based insecticide was produced to protect the fields. For the health of the earth and environment, plants fixing nitrogen were used in agriculture.


The third project concerns the improving of urban gardens in Butembo (République Démocratique du Congo - Democratic Republic of Congo). A conference will take place in 2001. Butembo is a small town situated In the north of Kivu that knew a rapid growth during the last years. These urban gardens already exist, but the problem of the waste, water supplying, parcel demarcation, "knowledge" and "know-how", as well as the coexistence of both animal husbandry and agriculture prevent the proper development of that local initiative. An inquiry held in close co-operation with the local partners in order to identify the existing problems will be the first phase of the project. Then, the conference will be the occasion to have original exchanges. Six questionnaires where compiled; concerning the following subjects : the soil, land problems, water, small animal husbandry, human resources, and the role of the woman in the management of the urban gardens. I wrote that last questionnaire concerning the role of the women and I will be prepared to present it, if necessary.


Valerie Piron