Democratic Republic of the Congo – AVEC groups and Covid-19 pandemic in Bukavu

18 June 2020

(ANS - Bukavu) - For about two years the Don Bosco Center in Bukavu, in collaboration with the A-SBL "Women and children in danger", has supported the functioning of the "AVEC" groups in various parishes of the diocese of Bukavu, for promoting the spirit of solidarity, but also to facilitate access to credit for the poorest people. The "AVEC" groups bring together 20 to 45 people from the same neighborhood and social class - vulnerable people who do not have access to official financial services.

The system consists of creating together, thanks to the contribution of each member, savings of solidarity, so as to enable - as a community - access to credit to be invested in an income-generating activity and therefore improve their economic conditions.

Since the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province of South-Kivu, work has suffered a sharp slowdown for the vast majority of the population. Since March 19, public authorities have imposed the abandonment of all activities involving more than 20 people. AVEC groups also faced the pandemic. Some committees decided to suspend activities; others reduced the number of participants in the weekly meeting to allow for the continuation of activities, as these associations are an effective means of allowing members to better prepare themselves economically for a disaster such as COVID-19.

Unfortunately, most members live day by day, use the money received from the AVEC group for activities that guarantee little more than survival. Members are currently having difficulty repaying their credits and even putting something aside: some for security reasons have suspended income-generating activities and have decided not to sell any more to the market, even if they have credits to repay; others are prioritizing food costs.

Emblematic is the story of Adidja Sikambwe, 53, a member of the AVEC "Neema / AFDC" group, which sells fried bananas on the street, Avenue Industrielle. With the start of the pandemic, her revenues have dropped dramatically, due to the lack of customers following the lockdown measures. Once she was forced to consume her goods in the family so that it would not rot. The business is no longer profitable and she would like to change it, but lacks the means. Due to the situation, she can no longer repay her credit, nor can she save money in her group.

If this situation persists, her small fried banana business risks bankruptcy, because at some point she will be forced to use all her capital to meet the food needs of her family. Still, her capital comes from a loan taken out for 2 months with the AVEC group of which she is a member.

Failure to repay the loan does not allow committee members to have the funds to meet the demands of other members in need of credit and this risks leading to the bankruptcy of this AVEC group.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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