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Aug 25, 2020

Farms for Orphans, Inc. August 2020 Special Report

Working at the farm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working at the farm during the COVID-19 pandemic.

GlobalGiving

August 2020 COVID-19 special report

Dear Donors,

I hope this update finds you and your family happy and healthy! Last I updated you, in March 2020, I had just returned from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). At that time, the country was already implementing precautionary measures to protect their population from the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, COVID-19 made its way into the DRC. Working in the DRC has many challenges. Working in the DRC during a pandemic is even more challenging! Read on to learn more about the toll of COVID-19 in DRC and our work during the pandemic. 

 FFO Research Farm

On 10 March, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country. Kinshasa’s central business district of Gombe — where the Farms for Orphans research farm is located, and the epicenter of DRC’s coronavirus outbreak – was put under lockdown on 19 March 2020. In addition, schools were closed, and commercial activities halted in Kinshasa. Five days later, President Tshisekedi declared a national state of emergency, closed the country’s borders, and isolated Kinshasa Province from other provinces to restrict the spread from the capital to the other regions of the country.

With permission from the government, FFO’s Country Manager and Lead Insect Farmer were able to continue our work at the research farm during the lockdown. Wearing personal protective equipment and practicing appropriate biosecurity on the farm is not unusual for us! 

As of 24 August, as I type this report, the Congolese government has reported nearly 10,000 cases and 251 deaths - an underestimate, given the limited COVID-19 testing capabilities within the country. Sadly, FFO’s staff have both lost friends or family in Kinshasa to COVID, and FFO lost two of our biggest advocates and members of the Rotary Club of Gombe. 

COVID also directly affected the FFO family, with our Country Manager falling ill around 23 June. For over three weeks, our Lead Insect Farmer took care of the farm himself! We are lucky to have his commitment and hard work, and luckier still to report that our Country Manager has made a full recovery and is back at work on the farm. 

Health effects of COVID-19 in the DRC

Biosecurity measures put forth by the World Health organization to decrease the spread of COVID-19 – wearing a mask, frequent hand washing, and social distancing – are very difficult in Kinshasa, where a majority of the population lives on less than $2USD/day. To begin, many people do not have access soap, an expensive commodity. Clean water is a luxury for those who can afford indoor plumbing. People would rather purchase food than soap and bottled water. 

Social distancing is difficult due to Kinshasa’s very high population density (13 million). Households are often crowded - it’s not unusual for 12 or more people to share a small house. 

The DR Congo has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 46.4% of the population under the age of 15 years. Generally, COVID-19 affects older demographics; however, a large portion of the Congolese population lives with co-morbidities, such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.  Illnesses and chronic malnutrition render the population more susceptible to COVID infection.

In addition, the DRC has a fragile health care system with a significant shortage of health-care workers, personal protective equipment and other necessary resources. An influx of COVID patients creates a severe strain on health-care systems in the region. Outside Kinshasa’s city limits, many are not able to access necessary services, whether for coronavirus symptoms or other health needs. The pandemic is having severe secondary impacts on people’s access to medical care for conditions other than COVID in Kinshasa.

Economic effects of COVID-19 in the DRC

According to the Brookings Institution, the DRC ranks within the top five nations expected to be hardest hit by the poverty impacts of COVID. An estimated 40 – 60 million additional people will fall into extreme poverty than originally predicted pre-COVID, with urban populations more affected due to a loss of wages. This year will be the first time this century that the number of poor people in the world will rise.  

Thus, progress in reducing poverty since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 has been considerably hampered. We could enter the U.N. Decade of Action with the same distance to travel on poverty reduction, but only ten years in which to do it!

The orphanages

Due to the closure of Kinshasa’s borders, food prices within the city have skyrocketed and orphanages are unable to purchase enough food for all the children in their care. Farms for Orphans continues to distribute palm weevil larvae to the most in need.  And, with help from donors like you, we can build more palm weevil farms within orphanages so they are better able to weather food shortages and fluctuating food prices.

The urgency to provide solutions to the interconnected problems of poverty and food insecurity is more pressing than ever! Our services are in high demand in Kinshasa, but we need the support of our donors to reach more vulnerable youth. Please make a donation to Farms for Orphans today! Your donation makes a huge difference!  

I wish you and your families good health in the coming months. Stay safe - practice social distancing, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently!  

Sincerely,

Dr. Amy Franklin

Farms for Orphans, Inc.

Founder and CEO

Links:

Mar 18, 2020

Farms for Orphans, Inc. March 2020

At the FFO experimental farm with our partners.
At the FFO experimental farm with our partners.

March 2020

Dear Donors,

Thank you for your continued support for Farms for Orphans!  You make our work possible!

This past February I was in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where our current activities take place, and I have many updates to share with you.

FFO Experimental Farm

As you know, our experimental farm and headquarters are located at the Congolese Health Ministry’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) complex in the district of Gombe in Kinshasa. Here, I met with representatives from the Health Ministry, the University of Kinshasa and the Congolese Government. We are excited to begin hosting graduate level students from the University of Kinshasa with a research interest in insect agriculture at the experimental farm. Students will be researching all aspects of palm weevil farming, from appropriate environmental growing conditions to feed and substrates favored by the larvae. 

Orphanage Palm Weevil Donations

We are continuing to donate palm weevil larvae to orphanages and street youth from our experimental farm. This past trip, I visited with an orphanage in Kinshasa where the children, ages 1-19 years, have not received protein in their diet for over two months! This was the first time most of the children have tried palm weevil larvae- and it was a hit! We were glad we could help this orphanage, but it was only a short-term solution. With help from donors like you, we can build more farms within orphanages so the children have access to a consistent source of protein and micronutrients.  

New Partners

It was a pleasure meeting with the Women in Business Association (WIBA) during my trip. The Association has over 300 members across the DR Congo, with a range of business initiatives from the automotive industry to the fashion industry. The Association in Kinshasa has built an insect-focused restaurant and market, called “Mikese Restaurant.”  Mikesemeans caterpillar in Tshiluba, but caterpillars aren’t the only insects that will be served and sold at the restaurant and market! FFO is excited to work with the WIBA to provide the restaurant and market with palm weevil larvae and crickets. Through this partnership, FFO youth farmers will gain training in business principles, restaurant management, food safety standards and food preparation. Together, our organizations are creating awareness of the need to farm insects rather than catching them in the wild.  As the wild harvesting of insects can reduce insect populations dramatically when consumption increases. We’ll keep you updated as this new collaboration progresses.

Updates from the University of Kinshasa

While in Kinshasa, I met with Dr. Patrick Mufwila, who is overseeing the joint FFO/Centre D’etude et D’appui Technique aux Initiatives Locales de Developpement (Center of Study and Technical Support for Local Development Initiatives) program at the University of Kinshasa.  Poultry, including chickens, quail, ducks and guinea fowl, are currently being raised at the facility.

#DYK? 

Poultry eggs are almost pure protein of very high quality. They also provide virtually the entire Daily Adequate Intake of vitamin B12, choline, and essential fatty acids for young children. Eggs are commonly a primary ingredient in formulas to treat malnourished children. And, eggs are a popular food in the DR Congo!  A small-scale poultry farm can provide economic opportunities for FFO youth farmers.  For as little as $300 USD, we can provide a youth farmer with everything needed to begin their own quail operation: training; housing for 40 quail; healthy, vaccinated layers; feed and substrate.  

Rotary Club

Farms for Orphans was happy to host our partners from the Rotary Club of Gombe at the FFO farm. Their enthusiasm for and support of our work has been priceless! We are excited to continue to work with the Gombe Club.

Thank you for your continued support, donors. We couldn’t continue this work without you.

Sincerely,

Dr. Amy Franklin

Farms for Orphans, Inc. Founder and CEO

An orphanage palm weevil dinner.
An orphanage palm weevil dinner.
A protein packed meal.
A protein packed meal.
Dr. Mufwila & Olivier (cricket farmer) at UNIKIN.
Dr. Mufwila & Olivier (cricket farmer) at UNIKIN.
Housing for 40 quail.
Housing for 40 quail.
Quail Eggs
Quail Eggs
Preparing a protein donation from FFO.
Preparing a protein donation from FFO.
The Rotary Club of Gombe visiting the FFO farm.
The Rotary Club of Gombe visiting the FFO farm.
FFO beneficiaries.
FFO beneficiaries.

Links:

Nov 13, 2019

Farms for Orphans, Inc. November 2019

Fabrice, FFO insect farmer, delivering larvae
Fabrice, FFO insect farmer, delivering larvae

November 2019

Dear Donors,

Thank you for your continued support for Farms for Orphans!  We couldn’t accomplish our work without you.

This past October I was in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where our current activities take place, and have many updates to share with you.

As you know, our experimental farm and headquarters are located at the Congolese Health Ministry’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) complex in the district of Gombe in Kinshasa. Here, we are experimenting with various feeds and rearing container designs, and we continue to partner with several palm oil companies and researchers from INRB with the aim of increasing efficiency and farm yields.

Thanks to you, we have come so far since first starting this project! The FFO experimental farm is thriving, so much so that we are now able to provide supplemental larvae to our partners that have not yet gotten their own farms fully up and running. One of our orphanage partners, for instance, suffered the loss of one of their staff earlier this year; because this person was also their primary insect farmer, their farming operations were temporarily suspended. Farms for Orphans is excited that we can continue to supply the youth of this orphanage with palm weevil larvae, ensuring them a healthy and sustainable source of protein and micronutrients.  

It was such a joy to go with FFO’s insect farmer, Fabrice, to deliver the larvae. The orphanage staff and children were happy to receive them as well as formula FFO purchased for the little ones.  

Ambassador Hammer and the US Embassy in Kinshasa

At the beginning of 2019 I had the pleasure of meeting the US Ambassador to the DR Congo, Mike Hammer. Ambassador Hammer was intrigued by our work and has proposed ways in which the US Embassy can support FFO’s ability to reach greater numbers of youth within the country. I spent some time working to advance these efforts during my recent stay in Kinshasa. The collaborations are still in development, but we hope to have more concrete information to provide in the coming months. Stay tuned for news! 

Updates from the University of Kinshasa

FFO is installing a converted shipping container at the University of Kinshasa (UNIKIN). As I mentioned in my last update, UNIKIN has donated land where, in partnership with the Congolese nonprofit Centre D’etude et D’appui Technique aux Initiatives Locales de Developpement (CEATILD), we are developing facilities for an agricultural research and training center to provide Congolese youth with a greater range of sustainable agricultural offerings. Here, cricket and silkworm farming, beekeeping, aquaculture and poultry production are already underway. The shipping container will provide space for palm weevil farming.  

While in Kinshasa, I met with Dr. Patrick Mafwila, who is overseeing our joint program at UNIKIN. Dr. Mafwila’s expertise is in developing aquaculture systems. He was excited to show me the catfish and tilapia rearing tanks.  

#DYK? 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states, “The fisheries and aquaculture sector plays and can continue to play a prominent role in world food security. Fish is a vital source of food including protein and micronutrients, particularly for many low-income populations, and the sector also contributes to economic growth and development by being a source of employment, livelihoods and income to people engaged in aquaculture.”

Thanks to Dr. Mafwila’s efforts, we will be able to offer our orphanage partners and youth we serve training in aquaculture as well as catfish and tilapia fingerlings to begin rearing their own fish.  

Consider giving the gift of grubs this holiday season! 

As the end of the year approaches, consider making a donation to Farms for Orphans on behalf of the loved ones on your list who have everything they need… who have a taste for the unusual… or who love kids, the planet, or sustainable agriculture! Farms for Orphans donations are fully tax-deductible, and your gift will go on giving to many deserving kids through 2020 and beyond. Donations to FFO may be made through Global Giving (https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/feed-empower-drcongos-orphans-through-insect-farming/).

With gratitude,

Dr. Amy Franklin

Founder and CEO

Farms for Orphans, Inc. 

Future FFO #YouthFarmer
Future FFO #YouthFarmer
Palm weevil larvae are a popular delicacy in DRC
Palm weevil larvae are a popular delicacy in DRC
FFO beneficiaries
FFO beneficiaries
Catfish rearing tanks
Catfish rearing tanks
FFO beneficiary
FFO beneficiary
Drs Mafwila & Franklin, #ZeroHunger warriors
Drs Mafwila & Franklin, #ZeroHunger warriors

Links:

 
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