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DR Congo: UPKA

Members of an UKPA farmers' group pass a covert taxation point on the road from Kindu to Kalima in Maniema province.

As part of our monthly focus, we take a look at work by our partners in the countries featured in this year's Christian Aid Week materials.

Here we see how one organisation is helping people stand up for their rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Speak of the DRC and people tend to think of the chaos of war and the destitution left behind.

But in Maniema province in eastern DRC, Christian Aid partner Union Paysanne pour le Progrès (UPKA) is proving recovery is possible. 

With our support, it is helping local communities to recover from years of conflict and corruption.

Confronting corruption

Take the case of Mwanso Walimbwa who works as farmer in Maniema, a remote area with rich fertile land.

UPKA has worked with Mwanso and his neighbours to assert their rights against a local corrupt practice whereby farmers are often illegally taxed as they go to and from markets.

In a rural area like this, where few people have learnt to read or write, civil servants, police and the military often take advantage of their authority.

Bringing farmers, local authorities and tax collectors together, UPKA has run training sessions on how to work within the law. The result of this cooperation has been the development of a simple pass for each farmer to wear which gives a clear message - they know their rights and the law and cannot be abused.

Working free from fear means the farmers also know they can keep their earnings - buying beds, education and healthcare for their families.

Long-term partnership

Christian Aid and UPKA have worked together for over 12 years in this isolated province. Our partners use any means necessary – canoe, bicycle or motorbike – to reach those most in need.

Today, UPKA is working with more than 75 villages to bring powerful change and giving communities the skills and confidence to have their say in public life – a vital step towards peace and democracy.

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