Last November and December I was working with Mercy Corps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I had the chance to make a photo essay on our work that the BBC is featuring on their website.
In 2009, the number of displaced people in eastern DRC reached more than 1.5 million. Today, the violence and displacement situation continues.
Camps for refugees and displaced people pose significant threats to personal security for women and girls who must leave the camps to collect firewood in the surrounding forests. Last year, Mercy Corps conducted a survey of displaced households and found that 90 percent of the people surveyed reported they had experienced harassment, violence or rape while collecting firewood in the forests.
Mercy Corps is training women to build fuel-efficient stoves and make bio-mass briquettes, to reduce the amount of firewood women need to collect in unsafe and remote areas where rapes typically occur. The fuel-efficient stoves and bio-mass briquettes also reduce the massive deforestation in the area.
Please check out my photo essay on the BBC for more information on this critical program that Mercy Corps is implementing.