DR Congo

Developing A Sustainable Congo

Our goal is to promote sustainable livelihoods and disaster risk reduction in the areas of Beya Bwanga ; Kabuluanda ; Benaleka ; Nkashama and in Demba municipality, which have been devastated by forest fires and armed conflict in DR Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has more than 110 million hectares of tropical rainforests. The forests of the Dr Congo are among the last large areas of relatively intact tropical forest and amazingly diverse as one of the few forest areas in Africa . 50 percent of DR Congo is covered by primary forest which provides a refuge for several large mammal species driven to extinction in other African countries. Overall, the country is known to have more than 11,000 species of plants, 450 mammals, 1,150 birds, 300 reptiles, and 200 amphibians.

forest conservation Africa

Over the past 10 years, DR Congo’s forests have been the site of terrible violence and immense human suffering, which spilled over from Rwanda and neighboring African countries.

The Second Congo War was a conflict that began in 1998 and still flares up on occasion today, although it officially ended in 2002. The war involved nine African nations and resulted in the deaths of about 3.8 million people, mostly from starvation and disease. The war has displaced millions from their homes as well as having a major impact on the environment and native wildlife of Congo DR

During the war, fighting and the movement of millions of refugees through forest regions decimated wildlife and took a heavy toll on protected areas. Forest in central and Eastern part of country suffered extensive damage by armed bands of soldiers and refugees from neighboring camps, who harvested some 36 million trees from the park and hunted gorillas and other animals. Garamba National Park, near Sudan, experienced raids from Sudanese soldiers who hunted endangered wildlife using automatic weapons, while Okapi Faunal Reserve, home to the Ituri Forest and more species of monkeys than anywhere else in the world, was ravaged by refugee migrations and marauding bands of militias, who looted and stole conservation equipment and killed park staff.

On the horizon, the greatest threats to DR Congo’s forests look to be subsistence and plantation agriculture; fuelwood collection; poaching, already widespread; increased logging; mining, and hydroelectric projects. DR Congo has 13 percent of the world’s hydroelectric potential. Infrastructure investments could rapidly drive new development, which has been stymied over the past 30 years by impassable roads, failing electricity grids, and crumbling transportation systems.

With vast forests, exceedingly high biodiversity, extraordinary hydroelectric potential, and substantial endowments of cobalt (28 percent of the world’s supply), copper (6 percent), and industrial diamonds (18 percent), DR Congo should be a relatively rich country. Instead, years of widespread crippling corruption and mismanagement have left it one of the world’s poorest countries. But there’s still hope that smarter, more accountable use of resources, combined with sustainable development initiatives and conservation efforts, can bring a brighter future to the people of DR Congo

The Project will support income generation activities particularly those related to safe environment; it will pilot alternative energy systems and energy efficiency measures to the selected local families, schools and municipality buildings and will introduce informal environmental education through eco clubs, eco camps and green schools in line with the Government’s strategy: ‘Environmental Education for Sustainable Development’. The above activities will be accompanied by community mobilization and training to ensure local participation in all activities enhancing ownership, knowledge and desire to manage natural resources in the best possible way. Lessons learned and techniques proven on site will be replicated elsewhere in the country, primarily in centre and eastern region.

Background and Rationale

The project ‘Restoration of Forest Ecosystems Damaged in Armed Conflict is initiated in order to mitigate the major impacts of forest fires and other human activities caused by the conflict and as a response to the Congolese government’s appeal for reconstruction

An unprecedented situation arose from the armed conflict. Specifically, during the conflict, a number of forest fires occurred as a consequence of military activities in several sites of the country. The findings of our assessments clearly identify risk of flooding, landslides, mudflows downstream of fire-affected areas; loss of wildlife habitats, especially in the core burned area; temporary shift in the composition and presence of species ; health impacts of fire emissions affecting, in particular, people with respiratory problems, impact on livelihoods of population in the area, etc.

The overall objective of the project is to rehabilitate ecosystems affected by the forest fires as the aftermath of the armed conflict in DR Congo. Important subsidiary objectives are to provide capacity building and training to local organizations and agencies responsible for forest rehabilitation and emergency situations.

The project envisage the following activities:

  1. Classification and image based inventory of degraded land and degraded forests in the affected regions ;
  2. Development of restoration models and establishment of a restoration plan for the damaged eco-systems based on the results of the assessments of the area, accompanied by local scientific research;
  3. Training of local decision makers and workers in restoration techniques;
  4. Restoration in various models on the pilot area of approximately 400 ha in view of their duplication in other areas of degraded land and degraded forests;
  5. Strengthening the capacities of local authorities and institutions in prevention of land degradation and forest fires, abatement and rehabilitation of degraded land and land protection measures;
  6. Implementation of public outreach to raise awareness on causes and implications of land degradation and demonstration of sustainable livelihoods.

Project Strategy

The Millennium Youth Initiative’s strategy for the project will be to promote and support sustainability of livelihoods in the target area of Beya Bwanga ; Kabuluanda ; Benaleka ; Nkashama villages, advocate for and encourage responsible attitude to environment and sustainable and efficient management of natural resources by supporting local communities and empowering youth. The strategy also envisages potential replication of successful results and experiences elsewhere in DR Congo. In addition, throughout planning and implementation phases, special emphasis will be made on securing sustainability of proposed initiatives beyond the project lifetime.

Project Goal and Objectives

The overall goal of this project is to contribute to sustainability of livelihoods in the villages Beya Bwanga ; Kabuluanda ; Benaleka ; Nkashama armed conflict. The project will achieve this goal through mainstreaming energy and environment, reducing risk of natural disasters, raising awareness and environmental consciousness at all levels via introducing environmentally friendly incentives, informal environmental education at secondary schools, piloting usage of alternative clean energy sources, training and support to the local community. Objectives include:

  • To promote sustainable livelihoods in the villages Beya Bwanga ; Kabuluanda ; Benaleka ; Nkashama by supporting local agricultural production, a small nursery for reforestation and recreation parks, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency to decrease demand on fire wood and other income generation activities.
  • To provide training and support to the local community increasing their capacity of natural resource management, raising awareness, ownership and resilience to natural disasters.
  • To mitigate disaster threat to the village from floods, landslides and mud slips.
  • Public outreach to increase interest, participation and awareness on impact of damaged forests, disaster risk reduction measures, clean environment and responsible attitude to environment.

Project Scope, Duration, Activities and Actions

The overall scope of the project is to demonstrate and replicate best practices of: a) sustainable livelihoods, b) disaster risk reduction and awareness, c) responsible attitude towards environment, d) increased interest and active participation of youth in environment protection related activities.

At this scale and within the timeframe of this project, the target is the rural population of the villages Beya Bwanga ; Kabuluanda ; Benaleka ; Nkashama affected by the damaged forests and to assist them in: developing sustainable development approach, improving quality of life through income generation, job opportunities, building skills, access to information and advise; also reducing disaster risk and increasing awareness; improving attitudes towards the environment and natural resource management. The introduction of informal environmental education at local secondary schools will place youth in a leadership role and ensure growth of environmental consciousness in the long-term.

  • Population statistics: 1567 households, 6225 people in Kabuluanda and Beya Bwanga; 1923 households, 8838 people in Bena Leka and Nkashama.
  • Community mobilization and participation of local people will be essential to the success of this project to achieve ownership and sustainability. Replication of the successful experiences of the project elsewhere in East province to multiply success as well as co-operation with other relevant organizations and various donors will be facilitated.
  • The proposed project time frame is twenty four months , starting when funding is secured. The first two months will be the preparation phase, followed by 20 months as the main project phase to introduce and build capacities, followed by the last 2 months to introduce exit strategy.
  • Expected Output 1 – Livelihoods of local people in the villages adjacent to the affected forest areas become more sustainable

Activity1.1. Development and implementation of sustainable livelihoods approach in the target villages:Conduct a feasibility assessment for the establishment of a pilot community nursery to supply reforestation and recreation parks.

  • Mobilize community to increase their interest for participation in the project initiatives, training and capacity building.

Following results are expected: a) community is mobilized and participates in developing sustainable livelihoods approach; b) pilot income generation projects are implemented by the villagers, their knowledge and skills are enhanced through training and guidance; c) community ownership, awareness and responsible attitude towards environment, as well as their natural resource management capacity has improved; d) income generated from agricultural and other activities will contribute to improved livelihoods and quality of life.

Activity 1.2 Introduction of a pilot renewable energy and energy efficiency scheme for households, schools reducing demand on firewood:

Assess needs and feasibility to introduce suitable and affordable alternative energy system/s and energy efficiency measures for the target villages aimed at replacing the use of wood with other renewable(s) or improving the efficient use of wood resources.

  • Identify school/s to demonstrate energy efficiency measures.
  • The pilot renewable energy and energy efficiency plan will be implemented with the help of selected professional service provider(s).
  • The local production/supply of renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment/systems will be supported; special training will be provided to users and the maintenance workshops will be supported.
  • Participatory approach will be applied to ensure local community and municipality interests are addressed as well as commitment and high ownership is secured for future maintenance.
  • Evaluation will be conducted identifying the lessons learned, and if feasible, possible replication to other communities will be recommended.
  • Following results are expected: a) demand on firewood is reduced in the area; b) basic living conditions and quality of life is better; c) basic conditions for tourists is improved; d) a demonstration school and a municipality building benefit from energy efficiency measures; e) opportunity for additional jobs and small income generating activities arise.
  • Expected Output 2: Disaster resilience of target villages is increased through risk reduction measures

Activity 2.1. Disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures:

  • In close partnership with local municipalities and communities, and assistance from a selected group of experts, disaster risk reduction activities will be carried out. Works will start with the review of existing assessments, plus an additional risk assessment including vulnerability of population and their coping capacity.
  • Results of these assessments will be used to define a disaster risk reduction and management plan for target villages; participation of local municipality representatives and communities will be strongly encouraged during this process. This plan will also include recommendation/options for specific risk reduction measures. Close cooperation and coordination will be ensured with the relevant representatives of the Ministry of department .
  • Once the plan is agreed with all partners, implementation of disaster mitigation measures will be supported; Participation of local community in these works will be ensured to allow additional job opportunities, raise skills and ownership. Cost sharing from the municipal authorities will also be encouraged.

Following results are expected: a) risk of natural disasters in villagers is reduced; b) awareness and resilience to disasters is increased; c) local workers obtain additional income and skills.

  • Expected Output 3: Informal environmental education at secondary schools introduced

Activity 3.1. Introduce informal environmental education at local schools:

In order to introduce basis for informal environmental education at schools, an assessment of available resources, methods and existing material will be carried out. Materials already developed and accessible on topics related to: forestry, biodiversity, implications of forest damage, climate change, disaster risk reduction, integrated management of natural resources, etc. will be assessed by the experienced teachers involved in environmental education as well as external education experts.

  • In order to introduce basis for informal environmental education at schools, an assessment of available resources, methods and existing material will be carried out. Materials already developed and accessible on topics related to: forestry, biodiversity, implications of forest damage, climate change, disaster risk reduction, integrated management of natural resources, etc. will be assessed by the experienced teachers involved in environmental education as well as external education experts. Suggestions on appropriate actions and options for adapting these materials for use at secondary schools, in eco clubs and eco camps (including any gaps not covered by existing materials) will be provided.
  • The project will work in close partnership with the Ministries of Environment and Education. Based on the review and assessment, develop teacher’s handbook, including teaching methodologies, lesson plans and student materials integrating the use of available materials in lessons for the target age groups; make sure experts from the Ministry of Education, NGOs, experienced students are involved. These materials when approved could be used nationwide.

Activity 3.2. Demonstration of environmental education in schools through pilot eco clubs

  • Select schools and support creation of eco clubs. Decide on a school suitable and capable to host an eco camp. Equip with minimum eco clubs and an eco camp; provide necessary materials, information and training to interested teachers and students.
  • Training and support will be offered to eco clubs and schools to assist with demonstration projects, ensure their participation and ownership.
  • Assist eco clubs to conduct public outreach and fundraising events to raise their profile and for sustainability.
  • Evaluate results and produce a lessons learned report 7weeks before the end of the project.

Following results are expected: a) informal environmental education is introduced at secondary schools ; b) communication with other eco clubs and camps is established; c) responsible attitude, awareness and interest to protect environment grow among local community; d) youth locally actively participate in environment related activities.

  • Expected Output 4: Responsible attitude to environment grows in target area Public awareness on and sound management of natural resources is increased

Activity 4.1 Increase public awareness using printed and visual material

  • Printed and visual material showing causes and implications of forest damage, land degradation, lack of environment protection mechanisms and poor management of natural resources; and reflecting results of the project activities: energy efficiency, disaster risk reduction, youth participation in environment protection events, etc.

Activity 4.2. Raise responsible attitude to environment:

  • A targeted public outreach campaign will be developed and introduced to increase level of awareness on implications of environment damage and clean environment.
  • Meetings, discussions, events, workshops will be organized by youth involved in eco-clubs, aimed at awareness raising, participation and capacity building.
  • Public Outreach will be an integral part of each project activity.

Following results are expected: a) local community’s attitude towards environment change; b) interest to participate in environment protection and risk mitigation measures increased; c) understanding of natural resource management increased; d) experience shared and success replicated elsewhere in the region.

Special Considerations

Local livelihoods and community participation: As outlined in the Goals and Objectives section above, improving livelihoods of local population of the affected area via creation of employment opportunities is one of the cross-cutting issues to be addressed in several activities of the project. It is of utmost importance to involve, as much as possible, local community members in the project actions, increase their ownership, interest and capacity. Local participation in disaster risk reduction actions will be encouraged and ensured to the extent possible.

Local youth has a lead role in this project to promote responsible attitude to environment in the target villages. Informal environmental education will be introduced at local schools; teachers and students will be encouraged to participate in developing eco clubs and eco camps, training materials, disaster risk reduction, community nursery and other environment related activities

Local women and development: Considerations should be given to improving the livelihood of local women and developing opportunities during the course of project implementation. Some actions will specifically target local women groups and encourage their participation and involvement in the project implementation. A good example might be nursery operations that are generally suitable for female labor; opportunities should be pursued with regard to improved horticulture, beekeeping, improved cattle, dried fruit and soft fruit cultivation etc.. Provision of equal opportunities to men and women will be considered at all stages of the project implementation.

Wood for fuel: The living standards of local population in the target villages are quite low; therefore, most of them are dependent on natural resources that can provide basic needs such as wood for various needs’ households. To reduce cutting wood for fire the project is planning to demonstrate introducing alternative energy systems and energy efficiency measures for local families, schools , accompanied with training and support for replication and maintenance.

Exit Strategy

All project partners and especially local municipality, communities and eco-clubs, will potentially play a significant role in sustaining activities. However, a concrete plan for the exit strategy will be developed once the results of external terminal evaluation are available. The external terminal evaluation will be carried out by external evaluators; the results can be used as a basis for developing an exit strategy to ensure smooth handover to the local partners and continuation of the project initiatives beyond the project lifetime.

Project Investment = $122,000

Project Leaders: Millennium Youth Initiative

Full Proposal Available Upon Request.