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South Kivu, ACDC


The people

The people of Eastern Congo-Kinshasa have been hit hard by over 20 years of conflict and chaos, first in connection with the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and then through lawlessness and looting in connection with the extraction of minerals. Several million people have been killed, and one million women are estimated to have been raped. The unrest has led to increased poverty and prevented children from going to school, especially for girls.


Human rights are violated both by the authorities and by the companies that extract minerals in the area; abuse of power, corruption and lawlessness are widespread. The population has been passive and suffered from discouragement, powerlessness and lack of trust. People have gotten used to living on handouts, and have lost faith that they can take control of their lives and create a good future for themselves.


People in rural areas often lack knowledge of both basic health care and good agricultural practices. Without literacy and math skills, it is difficult to manage finances and small businesses. The extensive looting has also led to many people stopping raising livestock, and not daring to farm at a distance from their homes. The food is not enough, and you are dependent on help from outside.


Restoring people's courage and faith in the future, and giving them tools to act together is the focus of ALEF's work with public education in South Kivu Province.

The partner organisation

ALEF's partnerACDC (Association Congolaise pour le Développement Communautaire) is a local organization in South Kivu Province. They conduct study groups in three grades in the Mashi language. The language is spoken by just over a million people, of which approximately 45% are illiterate. Since the start in 2013, thousands of young and illiterate adults have participated in ACDC's program in South Kivu. They have developed learning materials and curricula for three year groups together with ALEF.

The courses

In year 1, you learn basic reading and writing in the mother tongue Mashi and practice reading on texts you create yourself. You talk about common everyday challenges and make decisions about how to deal with them.


Year 2 focuses on how to use the four methods of calculation in everyday life. At the same time, reading and writing in the mother tongue is continued. In this grade, reading in Swahili is also introduced. The conversations about the challenges of everyday life and the solutions to the problems continue.


In the 3rd year, longer texts are read both in the mother tongue Mashi and in Swahili. Human rights are discussed based on the local situation. The groups learn how to start and run a savings cooperative together. The basic principle of the savings cooperative is that each member contributes a small amount each week. From the joint fund, they give each other small microloans. There is also a fund for social assistance for e.g. illness and death, as well as a fund for joint projects. ACDC regularly follows up the savings cooperatives started by groups that have completed the third year.

The results

Ever since the start in 2013, people have started to change their lives thanks to the courses. They get new hope, improve their finances and start income generating activities. They start raising chickens, goats and other farm animals.


After many years of conflict and humanitarian disaster, people are beginning to regain self-confidence and the belief that they can create a good life for themselves using their own resources, instead of just waiting for emergency aid from outside.


The groups are becoming increasingly bold in asserting their human rights, and demanding that the state guarantee a minimum level of service to citizens.


ACDC's project manager Marc Kashera says that three study groups organized a protest against having to pay in advance to get care at local clinics. Several of the groups' participants had died while waiting for treatment. The protest was heard, and when people in the villages heard about this, they were encouraged to also protest against the abuse of power and the corruption that is everywhere in this part of the Congo.

Those who participated in the groups gain a greater understanding of the importance of sending their children to school – even the girls. When the family gets better finances thanks to the new knowledge they gained in the courses, the parents can pay the school fees and ensure regular schooling for the children.

Here is an example of how the courses affect the children's schooling: In 2013, there were 150 participants in year 1 in one area. Of the participants' children, not a single girl was in school at the start of the course. By the end of the course, the mothers had sent 58% of their girls to school. A total of 126 children started school that year thanks to the course for mthe mothers. We have seen the same pattern repeated every year. Hundreds of children have been given the chance to go to school regularly thanks to the study groups for parents.


Since its inception, the program has become increasingly established in the area. In the beginning, many people expected to be paid for attending the courses. Participation was sporadic, and the level of learning relatively low. Now our partner organization tells us that everyone who attends grade 3 has learned to read and write their mother tongue fluently. The percentage who drop out without completing the course is low. The courses are in demand throughout the area.

Kabare district
In brief

Started: 2013

Partner organisation: ACDC

Area: Kabare, South Kivu

Number of groups 2023: 95

No of participants 2023: 2000

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