How can pigs improve people’s lives in one of the worst conflict zones in the world? Nancy Glass, Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Associate Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, talked about her work involving pigs at the recent Center for Public Health and Human Rights Symposium: Women’s Health and Women’s Rights: Where are the Key Synergies?.
Nancy Glass with survivors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Pigs for Peace, started in 2008 with a measly $400, is a small project to help improve the lives of people living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Eastern DRC, the South Kivu Province, there are a lot of rural areas where violence and civil unrest have been prominent. In response to the devastation of these conflicts, Programme d’Appui aux Initiatives de Developpement Economique du Kivu (Program Supporting Economic Development Initiatives in Kivu or PAIDEK), a microfinance organization in DRC, came up with a great idea to empower and improve the health of women and men.
The concept is very simple, similar to microfinance lending programs that have gained great popularity in the past few years such as Kiva. The difference is, instead of money the participants are given a female pig. The pig is given to the head of household, man or woman, and in return the recipient must give two pigs back into the program, one to repay the loan and one as interest on the loan.
The female pig can improve the dynamics of a family. When it reproduces, pigs can be sold to pay for living expenses or education or they can be used to start small business or finance small farms. Having the pigs gives the participants a sense of empowerment because they are able to pay the loan back and receive a great deal of knowledge and expertise from the project.