DRC: Protecting older people from violence
A local NGO working to support people affected by the conflict in DRC is working across four camps for internally displaced people, including Mugungu III. Across the four camps, 1,000 older people received at least 100 biomass briquettes each and a stove to burn them in.
The World Food Programme (WFP) funded the operation with technical support from HelpAge International in Mugungu III camp. In the other three camps, the distributions were made by the Mugungu III older people's association, which HelpAge set up.
Distributing these briquettes, instead of people having to collect firewood or buy charcoal, has many benefits. It preserves the environment and prevents violence and sexual violence against older people when they go and fetch wood in the Virunga National Park surrounding the camp. Making and selling the briquettes also provides older people with a chance to earn a living.
Older people prioritised at distributions
The older people involved could not hide their satisfaction with the briquettes. They also mentioned that, because of their poor health, they can no longer walk miles in search of firewood.
"Thanks to HelpAge, we get food and briquettes distributions before everyone else," commented an older lady smiling at her little bag of briquettes.
The bricks are made of biodegradable recycled paper that manufacturers gather in Goma town and bring to Mugunga III camp.
Making the briquettes is a great way for older people to take their minds off the stress of living in the camp, gets rid of waste paper from the city and avoids deforestation.
Efficient and environmentally friendly
It is also cheaper. One bag of briquettes costs US $ 10, while a bag of charcoal costs US $ 30. There was also a demonstration in the camp on how to use the briquettes. With this expertise it is possible to boil three litres of water in less than 30 minutes with three briquettes. Hardly any smoke is produced either, many have said.
Everyone involved in the project also received an improved stove designed for briquettes and a hundred briquette balls. And the project will not stop there: "We need to reach a total of one thousand distributed improved stoves, which means thousands of older people will benefit from our assistance," said Vianney Kagamba, the project coordinator.
There will also be a token process whereby people can request additional briquettes after a month.
Find out more about our work to support older people affected by conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.