COFAPRI is based in Bukavu in the Eastern Democratic Rupublic of Congo.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (République démocratique du Congo), formerly Zaire, is located in Central Africa, with a short Atlantic coastline (37 km). It is the third largest country in Africa by area.
COFAPRI works to give a voice to the women and the girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC.
COFAPRI was set up in 2009 by husband and wife team, Mugisho Theophile and Bahati Valérie, to empower women and girls, educate them about their rights, and to empower them through encouraging income-generating activities such as the rearing of livestock.
COFAPRI works closely with local leaders and encourages men's participation in awareness-raising events in order to raise the status of women and girls and change ingrained cultural attitudes.
COFAPRI currently operates in 36 villages located on different hills.
COFAPRI operates in the rural areas of the South Kivu province. This region of the country continues to experience instability due to the DRC’s ongoing conflict since 1996. The insecurity affecting South Kivu has resulted in high instances of rape.
Although citizens of the DRC are among the poorest in the world, having the second lowest nominal GDP per capita, the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources.
War has made the life of women precarious, and violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal.
Women continue to face major problems of violence in the wake of war in the eastern DRC, including domestic violence which has become ingrained in a culture of violence.
Due to the predominance of rape being used as a weapon of war, there are many children born of rape.
Rape survivors have often been afraid to voice their experiences of rape. For some women, this fear has arisen due to the reality of stigmatisation – both from their families and the wider community. Women who have been raped are seldom believed to have engaged in sexual relations unwillingly. There is also the additional fear of being rendered financially unstable, as husbands in rural areas typically own family property and are the main suppliers to the home; should the raped woman be repudiated, her access to the property and husband’s supplies also end, leaving her in a very vulnerable position.
Despite its work, COFAPRI has some obstacles. Firstly, there is a lack of equipment and people who are able to train the women and girls, due to the unavailability of funds. Secondly, COFAPRI does not currently have a plot of land where the women can learn their new skills. The villages are also unstable due to the country’s civil conflict and remain at risk of disturbance. Members of COFAPRI fear that their equipment will be looted, as had previously been done to their animals a few years ago.
Funding is a constant challenge.
COFAPRI’s main source of income is Mugisho and Bahati’s monthly savings for the projects. From time to time, COFAPRI also receives funds from friends and supporters.