Programme Index Listing

Location
Democratic Republic of Congo
Main implementer
DAI
Other implementers
The Manoff Group (a JSI company)
Donor
USAID
Duration
2020 - 2025
Total budget
USD $18.1 million
Annual budget
USD $3.6 million
Status
Active
Contact
Leon_Zabiti@DAI.com and PartenariatSLR@DAI.com
Resources
Technical reports / analysis
PSE strategy in Ituri
SLR workplan excerpts

Project description / objective

The Strengthening Livelihoods and Resilience Activity (SLR) works to enable households to surmount poverty and chronic vulnerability, catalyse inclusive economic growth in the fragile, conflict-affected setting of Ituri Province, and promote an evolution of the region’s socioeconomic system into a more resilient and inclusive one.

Market systems focus

Land-titling and conflict-resolution services

Land and natural resource access is the most widespread source of conflict in Ituri Province. This is often exacerbated by ethnically-aligned customary land security systems and weak state governance. Despite abundant uncultivated land, issues such as absentee landlords, unclear titles, and displaced people create conflicts over land scarcity. Uncertain land tenure discourages investment in agriculture, highlighting the need for government and civil society to resolve resource conflicts, map land participatively, and provide affordable land titles. This is crucial for peace in Ituri and for rebuilding its economy post-conflict. 

Input distribution system for staple food crops

Ituri's subsistence farmers benefit from rich soil and ample rainfall, eliminating the need for chemical fertilisers in their rainfed agriculture. Yet, poor infrastructure and militia activities hinder access to improved seeds, as input companies struggle with distribution. The habitual practice of seed saving, while a safeguard, curbs productivity and growth in agroprocessing. Despite challenges in adapting to Ituri's environment and market conditions, there's potential for MSD interventions to explore new business models with private-sector and community partners to enhance agricultural productivity.

Cacao and coffee processing and export

Ituri region's Mahagi and Mambasa territories are known for coffee and cacao production respectively, suited to their climate and soil. Despite international demand, Mahagi's coffee often gets smuggled and sold as Ugandan coffee. Mambasa's cacao production faces decline due to lack of investment in quality and challenges in exporting through militia-controlled areas. However, successful examples from North Kivu Province demonstrate that cooperation between large buyers, communities, and local governments can enhance the value of these cash crops for smallholder farmers and marginalised groups.

Supporting services for socially and environmentally responsible business models

Decades of humanitarian aid in Ituri Province have led local NGOs to replace many market functions, making markets vulnerable to aid fluctuations. NGOs, facing unstable funding, engage in quasi-commercial activities such as honey selling, initially to achieve social goals. This shift towards income generation has nudged some NGOs towards social enterprise models. These models, focusing on social and environmental responsibility, may be more resilient to conflict-related disruptions due to their emphasis on trust and inclusion. In Ituri's limited private sector landscape, SLR is considering such organisations for pilot projects.

Water supply system and water governance

The inability of the provincial government and the humanitarian system to install durable water infrastructure in Mambasa territory is a major driver for community distrust of authority and their sense of exclusion from the political and economic system. This scarcity also worsens nutritional outcomes and causes intra-community conflict. However, there is potential for community governance structures around water maintenance to foster conflict resolution and resilience. In small cities like Mambasa and Niania, entrepreneurs are interested in water service provision. Together they offer SLR the opportunity to enhance community cohesion, support entrepreneurship, and influence humanitarian norms in Ituri's largest, inaccessible, territory.

Note on market systems:
SLR endeavours to strengthen household resilience capacities, food security and nutrition, conflict-resolution skills, and systemic resilience primarily through interventions in the socioeconomic system - so the five market systems above capture the majority of SLR’s work.  However, as a resilience activity with a broader remit than a traditional MSD project, SLR looks at non-market systems and household-level resilience capacities when designing its interventions as well, so these are not an exhaustive representation of the activity’s scope.

Programme interventions

The following interventions are illustrative.

Land-titling and conflict-resolution services

SLR is strengthening critical systems around land and resource governance in Ituri and improving the capacity of the relevant institutions.

  • Support a local university with experience resolving conflicts around natural resources to introduce land-titling services to farmer cooperatives and local government in Mambasa territory; advocate with local government to reduce land-title fees for smallholder farmers permit fee payment in instalments (e.g. after harvest time); and pilot land-titling services with economically productive farmer groups.
  • Co-design a community-based joint economic venture between historically combative herding and farming communities in Irumu territory to improve livestock fodder quality and commercial horticulture productivity; the venture is premised on clear land demarcation, formal titles arranged through a neutral quasi-governmental local partner, and fencing to prevent cattle from damaging cropland, so it creates an economic incentive for each party to invest in stronger land tenure systems in the future.
  • Guide the Ituri provincial government to facilitate a comprehensive update to the land map of Irumu and Djugu territories in cooperation with territorial authorities and community and ethnic group leaders; these territories have the highest level of militia activity overall as well as the most prevalent pattern of competing militias controlling territory and demanding access to land (as opposed to periodic raiding behaviour more common in Mambasa, Mahagi, and Aru territories). An updated land map is a first step to reaching compromises on resource access, and the provincial government’s ability to conduct participative natural-resource planning will be an essential capacity for the peace process and post-conflict stability.

Input distribution system for staple food crops

SLR is helping maize, rice and potato input companies build distribution networks adapted to Ituri’s logistical and security challenges in order to sell improved seeds at affordable prices to smallholder farmers.

  • Support a Ugandan seed company with an established branch in Ituri to expand and strengthen its network of agro-dealers and mobile agents selling high-performing hybrid maize in Aru, Mahagi, Djugu and Irumu territories; pilot sales of fortified bean seeds through agro-dealer network; and monitor agro-dealer sales performance to implement training and coaching innovations in network.
  • Pilot tactics for organising and vetting farmer groups to purchase maize seeds on partial credit; intervention was paired with facilitation of buying arrangement with nearby maize-milling operations to ensure a market for the increased maize production.
  • Expand seed-credit model to an established rice company in Mambasa territory and adapt it to areas surrounding zones targeted for humanitarian seed-distribution programmes; guide informal farmer cooperatives in business planning to right-size improved rice seed purchases and identify buyers; and facilitate involvement of microfinance institutions and one commercial bank to potentially finance larger-scale investments in future.
  • Expand seed-credit model to a seed company from North Kivu interested in entering Ituri market starting in Aru and Mahagi marketing improved potato varieties; coordinate potato sales via an output buyer with modest land concessions in Djugu and open to in-grower models; and guide potato seed vendors in negotiation with farmer groups to structure seed-credit arrangement.

Cacao and coffee processing and export

SLR is guiding cacao and coffee producers and processors to improve quality and quantities while advocating for an improved enabling environment to permit export and marketing of these strategic cash crops.

  • Facilitate the assembly of four cacao processing centres in Mambasa territory and six coffee processing centres in Mahagi, accompanied by training in post-harvest handling in cooperation with large output buyers; co-invest in coffee washing centres and cacao fermentation centres with established coffee and cacao cooperatives to increase domestic value addition prior to export.
  • Network with farmer groups to support seasonal coffee processor to diversify into maize processing in the off-season to sustain operational costs year-round pending growth in domestic coffee production volume.
  • Cooperate with other USAID partners on shade-grown cacao initiative in the Okapi buffer zone and assist buyers with traceability to comply with EU deforestation-free requirements.
  • Support provincial government to advocate with DRC Prime Minister’s office to improve export conditions to make Iturian cacao and coffee more competitive on international market.

Supporting services for socially and environmentally responsible business models

SLR is partnering with local social enterprises to help them understand how to develop and implement a business plan for socially and environmentally friendly products such as wild honey and hand soap, develop inclusive sourcing strategies, and market their products outside Ituri.

  • Guide Mambasa social enterprise to co-create a supplier club model with indigenous communities to harvest high-quality wild honey based on guaranteed fair prices and minimum quality and quantity standards; support social enterprise in negotiations with bulk buyers to generate value-chain financing and upgrade its supply chain.
  • Pilot business models with Mambasa social enterprise to develop commercially sustainable production of soap and writing-chalk for sale to local hotels, restaurants and schools based on the employment of women and the handicapped.
  • Support agro-processing company in Ariwara with sourcing strategies to purchase rosemary from women farmers in Aru and with marketing strategies to sell rosemary extract into the Uganda market.

Water supply system and water governance

SLR is partnering with humanitarian organisations and entrepreneurs to improve sustainable potable water supply in Mambasa territory.

  • Partner with youth-led small enterprise in far western Mambasa town to pilot a commercial water-supply business model in areas with little access to potable water and poor nutritional outcomes due to hygiene issues.
  • Collaborate with international humanitarian organisations to introduce water infrastructure improvements (i.e. wells) together with better community water governance.
Note on interventions:
Given its fragile and conflict-affected implementation environment, SLR’s portfolio of interventions is a highly adaptive one, with activities being added or dropped monthly based on security considerations; partner willingness and ability; the performance of each intervention; and the emergence of new opportunities. The list above is therefore an illustrative sample of those market-systems interventions that were the most durable and appeared to have the most potential at the project’s midpoint in 2023. For a more updated and complete list of what SLR is working on, please get in touch using the contact on this page.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

Land-titling and conflict-resolution services

  • 100 cacao farmers in Mambasa territory obtained titles to their land at an affordable price and payment schedule and began investing in higher-quality trees.
  • 40 tomato growers in Irumu territory obtained title to their land and began co-investing in fencing to protect their fields from ranging livestock.
  • One territorial land ministry reduced land-titling fees for farmers and piloted a payment schedule tied to the harvest season.
  • Four private, governmental, or quasi-statal entities involved in preparing or granting land titles expanded their experience from short-term humanitarian interventions to long-term, economically informed land-title models.

Input distribution system for staple food crops

  • Over 1,600 farmers learned improved soil-management practices (such as minimal ploughing, refraining from burning grass, etc.) through commercial seed-distribution networks, and they applied good agricultural practices and improved maize seeds to over 1,000 hectares.
  • Annual maize sales through SLR-supported agro-dealer and agent network doubled from 2020 to 2022.
  • Five farmer associations in Mambasa territory obtained improved rice seeds on credit along with a guaranteed buying arrangement negotiated via the seed vendor.
  • 1,100 farmers in Aru, Mahagi, and Djugu territories obtained improved potato seeds on credit from potato seed companies.
  • In 2023, ~ $250,000 in revenue was generated by farmers and businesses supported directly or indirectly by SLR partnerships.

Cacao and coffee processing and export

  • Congolese national government reduced export tariff on Ituri cacao by 50 per cent to begin addressing competitiveness challenges.
  • Few promising indicators of systemic change so far. Cacao and coffee market system requires more time to gain traction.

Supporting services for socially and environmentally responsible business models

  • 90 indigenous households in Okapi rainforest area adopted semi-modern apiculture techniques and increased annual revenues five- to tenfold thanks to a supplier arrangement with local social enterprise selling wild honey to North Kivu grocery and pharmaceutical market.
  • 300 women-led households began receiving revenue from rosemary production for export SLR facilitated with an Aru-based processing company.

Water supply system and water governance

  • Few promising indicators of systemic change as of project midpoint. Required more time at outset to gain traction with humanitarian partners.

Impact on poverty

TBD from mid-term evaluations (in progress as of this profile update).

Note on results:
The above list is an illustrative selection of promising indicators of potential systemic change, taken from SLR’s FY 2023 annual report and focussed on activity outputs rather than systemic impact. This project profile was last updated at the midpoint of the project lifecycle when it was still too early to determine real market systems change, and SLR was still implementing the assessments that will help demonstrate the long-term impact of its interventions.

 

Read the blog: Navigating systemic resilience trade-offs in conflict settings: examples from Ituri, DRC


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