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Assessment of the “Hill Approach”: A Resilient Agriculture Food Security Project in DRC

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Evaluations and Research
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This report summarizes learning from the pilot of a “Hill Approach” in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. The Food Security Project (FSP) developed the approach in 2017/2018 to address the interrelated challenges of land degradation, low crop productivity, and insecure land tenure on hills owned by absentee landowners and farmed by tenants. It combines the collective implementation of soil and water conservation (SWC) measures, promotion of improved sustainable farming practices, and empowerment of tenant farmers to negotiate more favorable tenure conditions.

South Kivu is characterized by high levels of food insecurity and poverty, with low agricultural productivity and few offfarm income opportunities. A large proportion of farmers cultivate land belonging to large landowners, and without secure tenure, discouraging investment in the land. By working jointly with landowners, tenant farmers, and local authorities, FSP supported the rehabilitation and improvement of farmland on 18 hills on a pilot basis between 2017 and 2022. An evaluation and lesson-learning study were commissioned by FSP in early 2022 to assess the relevance, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability of the approach, and to develop recommendations for its improvement and replication.

This six-week study involved a review of project documents, meetings and key informant interviews with project staff, field visits to nine of the 18 hills to carry out focus group discussions with tenants, landowners, and FSP-initiated Green Hill Committee (COCOVE) members, and a workshop with local stakeholders. The Hill Approach resulted in a wide range of environmental, economic, and social benefits to tenants and landowners, as well as to the community overall.