The Challenge

Economic challenges often go hand-in-hand with violent conflict. In many central African communities, feelings of scarcity, lack of access to resources, and other socioeconomic factors can cause tension and conflict within communities, which sometimes leads to violence. 

At the same time, armed group conflict can interrupt livelihood activities such as farming, hunting, or traveling, which can have devastating effects on individuals and whole communities. In addition to its impact on public safety and mental health, prolonged insecurity in the region has severely limited access to basic infrastructure and social services, making communities more vulnerable to socioeconomic challenges and violent conflict. 

 

Our Response

We work alongside local leaders in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to develop and invest in small-scale sustainable livelihood initiatives that contribute to local economies taking local security concerns into account. By uniting community members across various social groups, these projects also help to reduce inter-communal tension and reduce exposure to violent conflict. 

In each participating community, Invisible Children staff members help facilitate the formation of a local management group made up of a diverse cross-section of the community. We then work with this group to identify needs and opportunities in their local economy, design a project, and provide business training to participants. Invisible Children then provides the local management group with resources to put the project into action. Projects can range from income-generating activities such as goat herding or rice farming to investments in local infrastructure, such as road repairs, to the formation of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). 

With small initial investments and continued support and training resources from Invisible Children, participants are equipped to provide for their families, enhance their local economy, and transform their communities. Often, communities participating in income-generating projects will also form local VSLAs through which the participants are able to reinvest other sustainable local businesses and projects. Through providing low-interest community loans through the VSLA, participants are able to support one another and open up more opportunities for other members of their community, ensuring that the project has an even wider, long-lasting impact.

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