Women in DRC Come Together to Innovate Alternatives to Selling Wild Meat

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a biodiversity hotspot which contains an essential population of chimpanzees and critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas. JGI is the co-coordinator of the Eastern DRC Conservation Action Plan and has been driving collaborative action towards shared goals alongside participating NGOs, government officials, and community members for years. As part of the work to combat illegal wildlife trade, particularly great ape hunting, this group focuses on behavior change to better understand the drivers of this threat and potential alternatives.  

In 2020, research revealed that women are the primary sellers and traders of hunted wild fauna, that this work is difficult, and that the main decision to participate is influenced by lack of livelihood alternatives. 

Because it was found that women play a powerful role in influencing market direction of wild meat consumption, JGI conducted a pilot project that focused on organized women’s groups in three communities. Known as “Amka kwa mabadiliko,” or “Wake up to change” in Kiswahili, the project attempts to increase governance capacities and develop alternative livelihoods through women’s collectives where the main livelihood is the selling of hunted wild fauna. These alternative livelihoods are discussed through, chosen by, and specific to each community. Some of the best outcomes have been increasing positive attitudes demonstrated by participating members.  

“The empowerment of our women’s group is for me a very positive result as we come together and decide as a team for the implementation of our community project.”

– EDRC Women’s Collective Participant

About Author

Ashley Sullivan is the Associate Director of Communications & Partnerships at the Jane Goodall Institute USA, where she works to connect individuals with Dr. Jane Goodall's vision, and the JGI mission to create a better world for all by protecting the interconnections between people, other animals, and the environment. Ashley graduated Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology and a minor in Biology, and is currently a Master's of Science Candidate for Environmental Science & Policy at Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Environmental Justice. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, now a D.C. resident, she has a varied background including nearly 10 years of expert communications and digital marketing in the social and environmental non-profit sector. Her intersectional approach to this work has been shaped by a holistic world-view, having traveled to Madagascar and Ecuador for conservation research projects, leading communications for youth social justice filmmaking programs, and as a part of several professional groups advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in environmental spaces. With skills ranging from conservation fieldwork, policy and advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, art, digital media, and design, Ashley believes in sharing information to empower and in the magic of storytelling to change hearts and minds. Through growing understanding, empathy, and justice, she is igniting positive change to create that better, more equitable world, every day.