Strengthening local systems to control Xanthomonas wilt in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

G. Mbure, D.B. Nzawele, J. Byamungu
Bananas (Musa spp.) are one of the most important food crops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). More than 300,000 households in DRC's South Kivu province, two-thirds of whom are food insecure, rely heavily on bananas for sustenance. For more than 10 years, production of bananas in Eastern DRC has been decimated by Xanthomonas wilt (BXW), an extremely devastating disease that causes banana plants to severely wilt and fruits to ripen prematurely thus rendering them inedible. Efforts to combat BXW have largely been inadequate, mainly because they have been implemented in piecemeal fashion with little coordination among actors and with limited attention to the institutional and behavioural constraints that undermine farming systems in the region. Against this background, World Vision (WV) implemented an integrated food security project in two localities of South Kivu, which saw the incidence of BXW decline from as high as 85% in 2013 to below 10% in 2016. A review of WV's experience highlights several important factors that led to this success. Firstly, WV focused on strengthening local systems. This entails building capacity of local institutions and strengthening contextual relationships among stakeholders. This approach enabled engagement of a wide spectrum of stakeholders, improving coordination and enhancing collaboration. Secondly, an integrated package of multi-sectoral interventions including activities to enhance nutrition, access to financial services and gender empowerment was utilized to ensure inclusiveness of men and women, youth and socially marginalized groups. A process of reflection was used to identify effective strategies and make course adjustments during implementation. Social behaviour change and communication was combined with strategic incentives and community by-laws to spur behaviour change. Lastly, local advocacy was used to strengthen delivery of public services and to improve the enabling environment for combating BXW.
Mbure, G., Nzawele, D.B. and Byamungu, J. (2018). Strengthening local systems to control Xanthomonas wilt in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Acta Hortic. 1196, 237-246
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1196.29
banana Xanthomonas wilt, behaviour change, food security, farmer-to-farmer extension, integrated programming, social accountability, strengthening local systems

Acta Horticulturae