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Parishes Educators Dioceses

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Week 5: March 22-28

Democratic Republic of Congo

Loving God, strengthen all families and communities throughout the world.

Hamuli works with other banana farmers to remove the banana wilt disease from his plantation in the North Kivu province of DRC, where CRS is helping farmers work together to keep their plantations healthy and disease resistant. Photo by Jean Paul Cigulube/CRS

Learn more about CRS' work in DRC.

Catholic social teaching focus:

Call to Family, Community and Participation

All of us are social by nature and are called to live in community with others—our full human potential isn’t realized in solitude, but in community with others. How we organize our families, societies and communities directly affects our ability to achieve our full human potential. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Hamuli’s story

When banana trees die, Hamuli Kahati has nothing to sell. And his family has nothing to eat. That’s why it’s so important for farmers like Hamuli in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be able to care for their crops.

Sometimes it isn’t safe for Hamuli to tend his trees—the DRC has a long history of war and conflict. Other times, the trees themselves get sick with a banana wilt disease. When the disease devastated the trees on Hamuli’s farm, his income dropped from $150 a month to only $7. He struggled to give his three daughters even one meal per day.

Catholic Relief Services helped start a field school where farmers like Hamuli could try different ways of treating banana wilt disease and learn new ways to work together. After training at the school, members visited each other’s fields and worked as a community to clean the disease off the trees. By coming together as a team, the farmers were able to help each other restore their farms and support their families.

Now Hamuli’s trees are thriving. With the $40 he earns each month, Hamuli’s family is eating two to three meals a day. He is even able to send his children to school. Hamuli knows that healthy harvests mean healthy families—and this is a lesson his entire community can share.

Facts to consider

  • The DRC has seen nearly 20 years of internal violence. The government reports that over 967,000 people are internally displaced in the province of North Kivu, where Hamuli and his family live. This violence is one factor contributing to food insecurity and high levels of malnutrition.
  • The banana wilt disease, or banana xanthomonas wilt, spreads rapidly and affects up to 80 percent of banana farmers in some parts of the country.
  • The banana wilt disease is characterized by wilted leaves on the affected plant and the rotting of the male bud which ultimately leads to the death of the plant.
  • CRS works with 380,000 vulnerable banana and cassava farmers in DRC to introduce food production and disease mitigation activities.