Supporting Refugees on the path to self-reliance
Antoinette Ekoko is 55 years old and a refugee from Maniema province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She lives in a settlement with her two grandchildren and 4 other unaccompanied minors, who she cares for. Antoinette is the mother of three, and one of her sons also lives in the settlement with his family, while the other two children are still in DRC. Antoinette is a grade 1 teacher at Lóvua school, a supervisor for the Food Management Committee and a farmer. She runs two big farms of rice and cassava where she employs seven other refugees. The money she earns at school she reinvests in agriculture to support herself and her family. She also buys and resells clothes at the local market for additional income.
She receives food assistance from WFP and seeds and tools from UNHCR and other partners. Antoinette says that, inspite of her work at the farm, she still hasn't attained self-reliance. According to her, WFP's assistance gives her strength to practice agriculture. At the same time, she mentions certain challenges she has to face as a farmer, such as lack of transportation to markets and lack of access to credit. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became more difficult for her to sell produce in neighbouring markets.
In 2021 Antoinette plans to increase her stock of rice seeds and begin to sell some to those interested in rice farming. She would also like to increase the production of cassava and help other farmers. Antoinette has already been a farmer for 2 years and says that the situation for refugee farmers has improved during this time.
Antoinette also volunteers at the Food Management Committee (FMC), which is a feedback mechanism established by WFP and partners to provide a platform for beneficiaries to voice their concerns. Together with other FMC members, she works during distributions to ensure that beneficiaries are aware of their entitlements, facilitates resolution of conflicts and registers feedback. To help Antoinette and other refugees, WFP and UNHCR plan to start livelihood support interventions to help them achieve self-reliance.