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Podcast

Inside DRC’s caterpillar project

Find out how edible caterpillars are improving food security, livelihoods and biodiversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo

2021

How to build community - a podcast series with Arukah Network
How to build community - a podcast series with Arukah Network

From: How to build community

A podcast series for anyone wanting to help their community to thrive 

By working together, a community in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has managed to reintroduce edible caterpillars to their local area after deforestation caused them to disappear.

In this podcast episode Violet Ruria, a programme advisor with The Salvation Army, discusses the many health, environmental and socio-economic benefits of this highly successful project.

Podcast highlights

  • ‘In DRC, the appearance of caterpillars signifies harmony between the communities and nature,’ explains Violet. ‘They believe that caterpillars are a gift to them for food, and it is one of the most highly rated delicacies. When a visitor is given caterpillars to eat it shows that they are really respected.’

    However, the destruction of the trees and bushes where the caterpillars live means that in some places this important, traditional source of food has almost completely disappeared.

    ‘In DRC, the appearance of caterpillars signifies harmony between the communities and nature,’ explains Violet. ‘They believe that caterpillars are a gift to them for food, and it is one of the most highly rated delicacies. When a visitor is given caterpillars to eat it shows that they are really respected.’

    However, the destruction of the trees and bushes where the caterpillars live means that in some places this important, traditional source of food has almost completely disappeared.

  • When Violet and her team were talking with a community in the Kongo Central province of DRC about malnutrition and hunger, one of the elders mentioned that they used to eat a lot of caterpillars. He said that now that the caterpillars were gone, their children were not as healthy.When Violet and her team were talking with a community in the Kongo Central province of DRC about malnutrition and hunger, one of the elders mentioned that they used to eat a lot of caterpillars. He said that now that the caterpillars were gone, their children were not as healthy.

     

    Violet says, ‘They came up with the idea that they could walk to neighbouring communities, who still had edible caterpillars, and ask for some caterpillar eggs so they could reintroduce them into their own community.

     

    ‘In the process they realised that they needed to first plant the host trees, so that they could put the larvae on the trees when the eggs hatched. So they established tree nurseries and the children in the schools were given the role of looking after them.

     

    ‘The community created a small laboratory where they could hatch different species of caterpillar eggs, and this laboratory has since become a place where people come to learn about caterpillar farming.’

    When Violet and her team were talking with a community in the Kongo Central province of DRC about malnutrition and hunger, one of the elders mentioned that they used to eat a lot of caterpillars. He said that now that the caterpillars were gone, their children were not as healthy.When Violet and her team were talking with a community in the Kongo Central province of DRC about malnutrition and hunger, one of the elders mentioned that they used to eat a lot of caterpillars. He said that now that the caterpillars were gone, their children were not as healthy.

     

    Violet says, ‘They came up with the idea that they could walk to neighbouring communities, who still had edible caterpillars, and ask for some caterpillar eggs so they could reintroduce them into their own community.

     

    ‘In the process they realised that they needed to first plant the host trees, so that they could put the larvae on the trees when the eggs hatched. So they established tree nurseries and the children in the schools were given the role of looking after them.

     

    ‘The community created a small laboratory where they could hatch different species of caterpillar eggs, and this laboratory has since become a place where people come to learn about caterpillar farming.’

  • Each family has planted the types of trees and bushes that caterpillars like, and they are now rearing the insects close to their homes.

    ‘Women and children no longer have to walk long distances into the forests in search of caterpillars for their families - they have them right within their community,’ says Violet. ‘They are able to sell surplus caterpillars and they have been learning how to dry and preserve them.

    ‘Each person feels valued for the role they play in this project. They see themselves as a community working alongside nature and reaping the benefit and the gift from God of caterpillars. The reappearance of many caterpillar species means that they are bringing the natural biodiversity back to their community.

    ‘They want to see this project grow so it reaches other parts of DRC, and beyond.’

    Each family has planted the types of trees and bushes that caterpillars like, and they are now rearing the insects close to their homes.

    ‘Women and children no longer have to walk long distances into the forests in search of caterpillars for their families - they have them right within their community,’ says Violet. ‘They are able to sell surplus caterpillars and they have been learning how to dry and preserve them.

    ‘Each person feels valued for the role they play in this project. They see themselves as a community working alongside nature and reaping the benefit and the gift from God of caterpillars. The reappearance of many caterpillar species means that they are bringing the natural biodiversity back to their community.

    ‘They want to see this project grow so it reaches other parts of DRC, and beyond.’

About this podcast

How to build community is a podcast and radio show from Arukah Network and Tearfund’s Footsteps magazine. The podcast gives people the opportunity to inspire and motivate others by talking about their community projects and ideas.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas for future podcast episodes.

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