Mayombe’s mamas produce banana chips to fight against deforestation

Project description: ESI Congo works on improving women’s livelihoods in the villages of Loaka and Magne in southwestern Congo while preserving the Mayombe forest. An agroforestry platform was created and is managed by a women’s group; the processing of plantains into banana chips and their sales provide new income to the wives of former hunters, offering a sustainable alternative to poaching. Plantains are provided by former hunters converted to agroforestry in order to curb traditional slash-and-burn farming practices in the forest. The responsible and ethical banana chips’ manufacturing provides a new value chain for plantains that are cultivated by 90% of the households of this area.

Climate Impact: The project is promoting products from local agroforestry in order to avoid felling trees over large areas (25 ha since 2017) for other agricultural purposes. Preserving the forest ensures a reduction in CO2 emissions and protects vital ecological niches, natural home of the great apes. The chip’s manufacturing process follows a comprehensive and environmentally friendly approach including low water consumption ( 50 l. of water for 15 kg of chips) and efficient firewood use of bamboo, an invasive species in this area.

Gender Impact: Women are given the opportunity to access jobs, which are rare for them in this region. They gain financial independence and a place in the local economy. This brings social, economic and environmental benefits for the whole community. Eleven women have received technical and entrepreneurship training; they are consulted in all strategic orientations thanks to horizontal decision-making processes. Their self confidence is being raised and they are encouraged to make active proposals so they can eventually manage the production unit independently.

Scalibility: Local authorities provided political support for this new economic activity, as well as logistical assistance through the donation of land for the chips production unit. The villagers want to increase the production rate in order to integrate more women. This local economic development model, based on ecosystem protection, is replicable in all countries where banana trees are grown and where the socio-cultural context allows to upgrade plantains products.

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Women’s formal access to land rights contributes to the fight against deforestation

Description of the project: CFLEDD strives for the recognition of women’s land and forest rights in the provinces of Equateur and Maindombe of the DRC, with the aim to strengthen their effective participation in reducing deforestation. An advocacy tool has been built and is used in dialogues between local and indigenous women, customary chiefs and provincial authorities. Recommendations resulting from these dialogues have led to the adoption of 2 provincial edicts that guarantee land and forest rights for women. This transforms the country’s patriarchal framework, while strengthening the role and decision-making power of women in DRC’s forest  management policies for climate action.

Climate impact: Halting deforestation is a key issue for effective climate action, thus all members of society should be able to contribute to it. For indigenous and pygmy indigenous women, traditionally in charge of farming in the forest, and therefore of protecting of this endangered ecosystem, the recognition of their land and forest rights is an essential condition of their active participation in forest governance, and therefore in the fight against climate change.

Gender impact: According to a study conducted by CLFEDD in 2016, 70% of women in the DRC do not have access to land and forest titles. Their capacitation via training in advocacy and leadership and the formalization of their rights through legal texts, enable local and indigenous women to play an active role in forest governance. All power levels, customary chiefs, administration, legislature, executive, and judiciary, are aware and have committed through legal texts to guarantee gender equality and to protect the rights of women.

Scalability / replicability: The concept of peaceful dialogues as an advocacy tool, supported by female leadership, form the basis of a replicable model. Women leaders, trained and mobilized, become actors of transmission and sustainability. CFLEDD Focal Points provide on-the-ground follow-up, working closely with local authorities and provincial assembly presidents. Information and awareness raising is broadly relayed by community radios.

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Advocacy for women’s right to land ownership through DRC’s land

Description of the project: This project advocates in 4 regions of DRC for national authorities and customary leaders to acknowledge the rights of women on lands and forests and strengthen their participation in climate action. Based on an assessment of women’s legal land tenure rights and local practices, an advocacy tool was created and used for meetings organized between women in these provinces and ministerial authorities or local decision-makers. This led to the recognition of women’s role in forest management and community development, and the allocation of land for agroforestry projects.

Climate impact: Women are the primary users of forest resources for family and economic needs. Their utilization is central for climate issues (mitigation and adaptation). In DRC, the 2015 national law upholds gender equity in all sectors, which is what CFLEDD relies on. The project allowed an increased participation of women in climate actions in the targeted regions: Central Congo, Bandundu, Equator and South Kivu.

Gender impact: The acknowledgement of women’s role in forest management and economic development, resulting in the allocation of land for agroforestry, allowed them to be received by customary leaders and progress towards a change in gender relationships in access to land ownership. This project is now taken as a best practice example of how to involve women in public management. CFLEDD obtained the publication of a national regulation requesting all Ministries to establish a Gender Focal Point.

Scalability / replicability: CFLEDD intends on sharing the project’s results in all DRC provinces through public administration offices, provincial ministries, local NGOs, customary leaders and the private sector. It intends to integrate gender equality and women’s rights in the country’s land reform and implementation of REDD+ programmes. The chosen methodology can be replicated in a number of countries facing similar land and climate issues.

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Restoring biodiversity in community forest by planting caterpillar trees

Description of the project: The Batwa Pygmies are discriminated against in DRC, particularly in their access to traditional forests, often overexploited. This project aims at restoring forest ownership by Pygmy populations (1,600 beneficiaries) and biodiversity in the Equator province by planting trees that host edible caterpillars in two forest areas of 100 ha each. Caterpillars used as food produce can mitigate food insecurity due to the loss of crops and generate a source of income for indigenous women. They are trained to rehabilitate damaged ecosystems and manage forests rationally and sustainably.

Climate impact: The Batwas’s community forests suffer from increasing deforestation due to industrial overexploitation and soil impoverishment through unsustainable agricultural practices. The project aims at fighting deforestation by rehabilitating local plants: planting trees that host edible caterpillars allows for successful restoration of the forest biodiversity. The project aims at a total annual production of 25,000 tons of caterpillars which could yield an annual income of up to $3,750,000.

Gender impact: The project is led by FECOFFA, an indigenous women’s organization, ensuring them total integration in the decisional process. Furthermore, FECOFFA trains indigenous families – women and girls primarily – to plant trees that host edible caterpillars, reinforcing their knowledge competencies. The income generated by the project also aims at improving the autonomy of the Batwa women involved.

Scalability / replicability: The project aims to limit discriminations suffered by the Batwas in the decisional processes related to forest exploitation in Congo and, in a broader scope, to reinforce the respect of specific indigenous peoples rights in policies linked to REDD+. The project was implemented in 4 villages: Bowele, Bolama, Bokenge and Boala Ngombe. Its economic model is simple and replicable.

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