Each morning, women from Kahemba go to work in cassava fields. It's a staple crop for the region, but it carries a hidden danger. Consuming insufficiently processed cassava can cause konzo, a paralytic disease.
Photographer Neil Brandvold traveled with science journalist Amy Maxmen to DRC to cover the story for GHN. See how the story unfolds in Neil's vivid images that follow, and read Amy's stories and the Intro to the Series here.
Special thanks to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for supporting the photography for this series.
Ngolu Kulemfuka (left) and a friend tend to a small plot of land where they try and grow other types of vegetables. The soil makes it difficult for anything other than cassava to grow.
A young girl sells cassava leaves; much of the economy is dependent on the sale of various forms of cassava.
Ngolu Kulemfuka retrieves cassava roots that have been soaking in a stream outside of Kahemba.
Cassava roots dry on the roof of a house on the outskirts of Kahemba, DRC.
A relative of Etienne and his families prepares cassava for the family each night.
Olga, 30, with her 3 year old daughter Odile in Kahemba. Roughly a year ago Odile stopped moving her legs, Olga is not sure why she became paralyzed but had been feeding her a diet consisting largely of various forms of cassava.
Kumisa Kadogo, 16, is the third child in his family to have Konzo, his family was unaware of the dangers of eating underprepared Cassava. He suffers from a lot of pain in his ribs and back as well and relies on a stick to walk, but cannot walk far distances because of the pain.
Fils Kunduku, 9, has paralysis in both legs and is forced to crawl everywhere. His grandmother and two siblings also have Konzo.
Mary Kinduku, 7, has paralysis in both legs from Konzo. She is taken care of by her grandmother Evelyn Matondo who also has Konzo and has not been able to walk for the last 6 years.
A young girl stands on a street in downtown Kahebma in the early morning.