Congo, The Holy Family Sisters’ Five Ponds as a Rehabilitation of Nutritional Health
In Congo, in Kisangani, the nuns of the Holy Family, supported by Spazio Spadoni with a HIC SUM PROGETTI, are the protagonists of a strenuous fight against child malnutrition and the protein deficit needed by the poorest population
Aquaculture and fish farming, one of the protagonists tells us, as a ‘peaceful weapon’ to overcome hunger and to give dignity to so many families.
Child malnutrition, the role of the Sisters of the Holy Family
The community of the Sisters of the Holy Family has a marshy land of about 2Ha including five fish ponds built but these are in a state of abandonment and the concession of the community of the Sisters of the Holy Family is surrounded by houses and the theft of fish are regularly orchestrated by the surrounding population. It is therefore in the context of the rehabilitation of children’s nutritional health in poor households and the promotion of market gardening that this project is situated.
With this project, Sisters of Holy Family aims to contribute to the improvement of food security for poor families (from vulnerable social groups: indigent children and patients) living in the vicinity of the community of the sisters of the holy family in Simi Simi (City Council of Makiso); to ensure the production of Tilapia Nilotica and vegetable crops around the fish ponds at the Novitiate site of the Holy Family Sisters’ community.
Financial support so commendable for the execution of this project of rehabilitation for the benefit of the malnourished children of our Health Center JAMAA comes from Spazio Spadoni Foundation.
Holy Family Sister’s community, is one of the religious sister’s community who joined the “Hic Sum “project of Spazio Spadoni Foundation
“HIC SUM” is a Latin term meaning Here I am; and it’s a title and symbol of this project.
Which is a project ‘toward’ the other, the one who is far away in the poorest land.
In this way, Hic Sum is therefore aimed at give pratical and real possibilities of autonomy to fragile people spreading the Misericordia experience, bring effective help to the Missionary experiences of the Church and communities that continue to be present in the world as extraordinary points of support for those with economic, social, cultural and educational poverty.
To supervise and lead this project is sister Annie Matebosa from the Congregation of Holy Family
Sister Annie attended a HICSUM formation course at Misericordia of Assisi (Italy) in 2022.
Coming back in her Congregation after formation she attended, sister Annie took time to share her experience with sisters visiting others Holy Family community sisters in Kisangani Archdiocese.
She started a small group of volunteers, where she continues to share the spirit of “Misericordia”, in reciprocity the volunteers help in carrying out the project with her.
With this support of Spazio Spadoni, Since September 2022 after valuating a Business plan, following activities were carried out to rehabilitate fishponds;
- 2hectares of fishpond land maintained and opened up.
- Rehabilitated drainage canal, a 100m long drainage canal was rehabilitated. The operations consisted of clearing the mud, enlarging the canal, digging and levelling the base.
- 5 ponds were rehabilitated, for each pond the following operations were carried out: clearing the weeds, clearing the mud from the ponds, rebuilding the dykes, supplying each pond with water by placing the pipes.
- The size of each pond is: I. 21m x 28m, II. 36m x 28m, III. 28m x 15m, IV. 38m x 28m, V.28m x 28m.
- Introduction of fingerlings: two species cultured were placed in each pond; which are Oreochromis niloticus and Clarias gariepinus. In total of 5.000 fingerlings were placed in 5 ponds. Cultured fish species come from Congo River.
To monitoring these activities, Since the start of the project, the sister in charge Annie and a technician have followed the rehabilitation process, the standards and the procedures.
It will make it possible to know periodically the rate of achievement of the programmed activities on the basis of the indicators of physical and financial achievements planned.
Technical, corrections, physical indicators of rehabilitation speak for themselves, some tasks, maintenance, water level in the ponds, feeding.
It’s remain a challenge to find manufactured fish feeds actually in the region, however, most of fish farmers used rice bran, pigs waste, household waste and different kind of leaves.
Twice a week, three 100kg bags of waste from the pigsty of the congregation of the sisters of the holy family of Kisangani are used to feed the fish, although the rate and quantity of feeding may change as the fish grow.
A significant element is harvest, that mean to know the fish productivity
Sister Annie allows to keep detail records of their production after harvested. Fish post-harvest and marketing will be practiced for commercializing.
Fish will either sale freshly caught and ungutted, or after some storage in the freezer as freshen fish.
The sale of farmed fish is mostly done on site. Fish prices are very high at 5$ per kilogramme.
For the sustainability of the project; the benefits expected from the project will be long-lasting as shown by the following considerations:
– Innovation in Fish farming is a perennial activity and its implementation valorizes the by products of the pigsty, the kitchen and the garden.
– The project integrates men and women volunteers according to the spirit of misericordia
– The project will promote local knowledge and the sustainability of the activity is obvious
– The project will fight against the destruction of the environment by developing mulching techniques, planting fruit trees and using livestock by-products.
Actually, the main constraints for aquaculture development in Kisangani and somewhere else in Sub-Saharan Africa region is the lack of institutional support to fish farmers, losses of stock due to theft and unavailability of commercial fish feeds.
This project in its rehabilitated state had agreed for its sustainability, the valorization of local knowledge, nevertheless some risks remain; notably the activity aroused the covetousness of the surrounding population (predation).
To overcome this, the congregation will have to find a mechanism to protect the ponds (the fish) by taking charge of the guards during the day and at night, placing solar light to light up all the compound.
Another aspect is the continued development of the concession; a large part of the land is not occupied.
An effort must be made to make the whole area profitable; by diversifying cultures.
We hope to continue in innovating in others sectors as agriculture and poultry.
Notheless; Sisters of Holy Family have a conviction to develop aquaculture in this area of Kisangani, with an exit approach as a profitable social business, which generates significant revenues and create job.
By Rodrigue Bidubula