TUUNGANA : IN THE PASSION OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Tuungana is an agro-pastoral and mining cooperative. It has been active throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in the North Kivu and Kinshasa provinces.
Coming from a law background, Joanna Zaina Hakizinka (photo) is Deputy Chief at the Ministry of Health. This woman of action is also president of Tuungana. Interview.

You are the president of an agro-pastoral and mining cooperative. What motivated you to create this non-profit association?

Joanna Zaina Hakinka: I am from the North Kivu province. In my youth, my father took us to visit the family farm in Masisi. This is how I first got exposed to the daily realities of rural populations. Nowadays, the precariousness in which the communities live has challenged me and motivated me to create a structure to bring solutions to the problems observed. Following this reflection, we formed the Tuungana cooperative, which means "All together".

What are the main activities of your organisation?

JZH : We operate in five areas: agriculture, livestock, health, hygiene, education and training, and artisanal mining.

What is the impact of your activities on people's lives?

JZH : Each year, we carry out at least one activity per quarter, with a direct and visible impact on rural populations. For instance, in the agricultural field, more particularly in Masisi, we have listed breeders and farmers for each village in the area. We have also set up a community field project to promote cohabitation between tribes.

What about education and training?

JZH : Tuungana paid school fees for the year 2016-2017 for 120 students from disadvantaged families and children born with a disability. Tuungana also trains vulnerable girls in cutting and sewing, basket weaving and knitting. In the area of health and hygiene, we raise awareness about sexually transmitted diseases at artisanal mining sites and conduct campaigns to prevent and participate in the response to epidemics such as cholera and the Ebola virus. With the Ministry of Health, we are distributing medicines in the Masisi health centres and we are pursuing advocacy with various partners to equip these health centres. Finally, in the field of artisanal mining, we identify miners and traders, we advise artisanal miners to improve working conditions and hygiene, including through the construction of public latrines. Tuungana is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). This is how we work to raise awareness about compliance with the requirements of the traceability system, duty of diligence for responsible supply chains and the fight against child and youth labour in mining careers.

What are your prospects?

JZH : Tuungana is in talks with its partners to launch the construction in the coming months of a maternity and trades apprenticeship centre for girls. In the same order, it intends to continue its advocacy for the improvement of living conditions in rural areas.

Interview by Marie Aude Delafoy

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