Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the setting for our study, has primarily been characterized by a loss of security, unpredictability and lack of structure in daily life. Essential services and institutions, such as schools and health clinics were damaged or purposely destroyed by armed groups. Family and social networks were displaced by violence, rape, looting and abduction. Even in the context of these significant adversities, Congolese individuals, families and communities are demonstrating resilience and working to rebuild their futures, for example, through active participation in an adult animal husbandry microfinance program, Pigs for Peace (PFP). In addition to the economic benefits of microfinance, there is evidence to suggest that it may be an effective vehicle for improving health and social outcomes for youth and adults. Initial evidence from our PFP microfinance program in rural DRC indicates that health and economic stability is improved in participating households. However, the direct impact of the PFP microfinance on youth in participating households is not known. The investigators propose to leverage their existing study, A Microfinance Intervention to Improve Health of Rape Survivors in DRC (R01MD006075-01) in rural DRC villages to test the effectiveness of a youth- led animal husbandry microfinance program combined with the adult PFP microfinance program on youth, family and community resilience outcomes. This longitudinal, mixed-method, cluster randomized community trial will include households in 24 villages randomized to one of three groups: 1) youth-led microfinance plus PFP microfinance; 2) youth-led microfinance only; and 3) PFP microfinance only. All youth in participating households ages 10-14 years are eligible for the youth-led microfinance program and one parent/caregiver is eligible for PFP. The outcomes will be collected from multiple sources and will include: youth resilience (school attendance, relationship with family members and peers, health, self-esteem, outlook for future), family resilience (household economy, food security, parent/caregiver health) and community resilience (youth and adults engagement in community activities such as sports, traditional dance, and choir). The study addresses National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) priorities to develop and test interventions to reduce health disparities and improve the health of children, families and communities. Research findings will inform the science base for large-scale implementation of structural interventions, with the aim to establish a causal relationship between youth and adult microfinance programs and improved resilience outcomes of youth, families and villages in post-conflict settings.
The study addresses National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) priorities to develop and test interventions to reduce health disparities and improve the health of children, families and communities. Research findings will inform the science for large-scale implementation of structural interventions, with the aim to establish a causal relationship between youth and adult microfinance programs and resilience outcomes of youth, families and villages in post-conflict settings.
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