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Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo

by Wildlife Conservation Global
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
Help Stop Slash and Burn Farming in the Congo
The completed office and storeroom in Mambasa
The completed office and storeroom in Mambasa

The area of Wamba just outside the Reserve’s northwest sector has experienced an increase in population which has put pressure on the fragile forest ecosystem. The communities surrounding Wamba have an interest in conservation and protecting the forest and requested the construction of a nursery to improve food security and to become involved in our agroforestry program. The nursery was completed in early 2018 and is currently managed by Therese Bangbeto, the first woman to run one of our five nurseries.

 

Because of the addition of this 5th nursery, we can now contribute to improving food security in the communities in the northern part of the Reserve, and we expect by increasing crop yields to reduce the need for people to be involved in illegal activities to support their families. Under Therese’s guidance, this nursery, after starting all the seedlings from seeds collected locally, has allowed us to surpass our goal of distributing over 60,000 tree seedlings in 2018!

In the town of Mambasa, we constructed an office building and storage space for our educators, agronomes and the local women’s group. The building was constructed on a plot of land owned by OCP and provides office space and storage for our educators and agronomes and an enclosed space for the Mambasa women’s group to meet and store their materials such as sewing machines, seeds and fabrics. Having this safe, dry and proper storage space will provide team members with a suitable place to plan and conduct their programs and store all supplies. It is important that the seeds for our agroforestry program have a cool, dry space in order to be banked and distributed to local farmers in the future.

In 2018, our agronomes also distributed over 5,300 kg of rice, 250 kg of beans and almost 2,000 kg of peanuts to farmers joining our agroforestry program around the Reserve. Our agroforestry program has proven results by increasing farmers' crop yields through natural fertilizers allowing farmers to lengthen the life of the soil and avoid cutting new plots of land destroying critical okapi habitat. 

Twenty-eighteen was filled with ambitious goals of strengthening infrastructure and reach to new communities and this year we hope to achieve the same. Together with your support, we can ensure okapi and communities have a safe place to live for generations. Thank you!

A happy Biakato Farmer with cabbage harvest
A happy Biakato Farmer with cabbage harvest
Seed distribution in Biakato
Seed distribution in Biakato

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Sowing the first seeds at the Wamba Nursery
Sowing the first seeds at the Wamba Nursery

The area of Wamba just outside the Reserve’s northwest sector has experienced an increase in population which has put pressure on the fragile forest ecosystem. The communities surrounding Wamba have an interest in conservation and protecting the forest and requested the construction of a nursery to improve food security and learn about our agroforestry program.

The nursery was completed in March and is currently managed by Therese Bangbeto, the first woman to run one of OCP’s five nurseries. Because of the addition of this 5th nursery, we can contribute to improving food security in the communities in the northern part of the Reserve, and we expect a decrease in the need for people to be involved in illegal activities to support their families. Under Therese’s guidance, this nursery, after starting all the seedlings from seeds collected locally, has already distributed 8,902 trees to 1,794 people through September. We have a goal of distributing 60,000 trees in 2018 from all our nurseries and it looks like we are on pace to hit our target later this year.

This year we were ambitious with construction projects throughout the Reserve – A new Zunguluka guard post and immigration checkpoint at the eastern boundary of the Reserve, a new internet space for ICCN rangers to provide regular communication to their counterparts in the field and constructing a much-needed office complex in Mambasa for our educators, agronomes and women’s groups. The office complex is nearly complete and should be finished by the end of this month. It was constructed on a plot of land owned by OCP, and when finished, it will provide office space and storage for educators, agronomes and women’s groups to meet and store their materials such as sewing machines, seeds and fabrics. Having this safe and proper storage space will provide team members with a productive environment to plan and conduct their programs and store all supplies. An additional benefit is OCP no longer will have pay to rent for office space in town.  

This year has been full of ambition with large-scale projects to protect the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. All of this is only possible because of the continued support from people like you. We thank you for your dedication to help protect okapi and their rainforest home!

Therese Bangbeto coordinates the Wamba Nursery
Therese Bangbeto coordinates the Wamba Nursery
Mambasa Women's Group in front of office complex
Mambasa Women's Group in front of office complex

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Wamba Nursery
Wamba Nursery

OCP’s agroforestry team built a new tree nursery in Wamba, bringing the total number of OCP tree nurseries to five, which produced and distributed 17,153 tree seedlings to 400 farmers in the first quarter of 2018. This fifth nursery will help us reach our goal of 60,000 seedlings grown and distributed by the end of 2018.

Agronomes collected 1,463 kilograms of rice, 304 kilograms of peanuts and 527 kilograms of beans from first-year farmers to be stored until the next growing season when the seeds will be redistributed to new farmers joining the agroforestry programs.

OCP educators have been extremely busy distributing 3,000 calendars with conservation messages to schools, businesses and government offices around the Ituri landscape. In order to make it clear to local communities which species of animals are totally protected in DRC, five thousand posters depicting images of 16 totally protected endangered species with their scientific, French, Swahili and Lingala names were distributed to communities inside and around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.

OCP support of ICCN is the cornerstone of protecting okapi habitat. The construction of a new office, an immigration processing building and sanitary facilities at the Zunguluka Patrol Post is nearly complete. Once in operation, this major access point to the Reserve will be much more efficient and thorough in processing people and vehicles travelling through the Reserve on the only East-West road in Eastern DRC.

We truly are making a difference for the animals and communities around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. All of these advancements for okapi conservation are not possible without your continued support, and for that, we thank you!

Posters and calendars provided to Woman's Group
Posters and calendars provided to Woman's Group
Zunguluka Guard Post, mid construction
Zunguluka Guard Post, mid construction

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Nurseries provide tree seedlings for distribution
Nurseries provide tree seedlings for distribution

Despite the horrific and heartbeaking attack on the Okapi Conservation Project truck that resulted in seven lives lost, including one of our dedicated educators, Kalinda, we carry on the message of conservation in their honor. We are covering all healthcare costs and school fees for Kalinda's family to ensure they are able to move forward and that his children can continue their education.

We recently began construction on an agroforestry nursery in Wamba, just northwest of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR). This brings our total number of nurseries in and around the Reserve to five. Until now, the Wamba area was not served by our agroforestry program and as the funding and community interest became available for expansion, we capitalized on that motivation to better serve the community and reduce the slash-and-burn impacts on the critical rainforest that needs to be protected for okapi and other wildlife that share its habitat. Soon the nursery will be filled with seedlings to distribute in the area. This year, OCP has a goal of distributing a total of 60,000 from our five nurseries. 

After meeting with Wamba officials in November, John Lukas was pleasantly surprised to hear the community actually wanted the Core Conservation Area that was created in the OWR in 2015 to be expanded closer to Wamba. The Core Conservation Area does not allow any human activity or presence to occur without proper permits from the government. If the area is expanded to Wamba, those rules would remain the same. The realization by the Wamba community wanting to expand the protected area shows they understand their community and families benefit more from a protected forest filled with spectacular biodiversity. This understanding of conservation is due in most part by strong, dedicated OCP educators like Kalinda.

We are only able to maintain a strong, resilient conservation presence in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve with your help. We thank you for your continued support. 

Wamba nursery will be filled with seedlings soon
Wamba nursery will be filled with seedlings soon

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Women Walking to Fetch Water
Women Walking to Fetch Water

The Okapi Conservation Project runs several community engagement projects in addition to the highly successful Agroforestry Program. These projects, like agroforestry, are rooted in assisting the local communities by improving their quality of living and providing secure access to many essentials. Even though some of the projects are not directly related to agriculture, they often have the same effect of reducing the amount of space needed to cultivate crops – thus reducing the amount of land that is converted through slash and burn practices.

OCP has recently completed the refurbishment of eight community water sources in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. These eight sources provide water to roughly 8,000 community members and were initially protected in the early 1990s. The years of usage and the environment had been hard on them, and they had fallen into a state that was not adequately meeting the needs of the communities. The rate of water flow was low and the area around the spigots was muddy and contaminated through overuse by people. The low flow rate required women and children to rise early and spend a significant portion of their day waiting in lines to gather water, a basic need for life. The unclean nature of the spigot areas increased the risk of disease from contaminated water, particularly in children. The resulting increase in water-related diseases required medical treatment, resulting in not only poor health, but also increased healthcare costs. Providing secure water access with increased flow allows for less time spent waiting in lines, while simultaneously increasing the number of community members that can gather water at a single spigot, and clean water has been shown to decrease disease transmission in children.

All eight of the springs were dug out and encased in concrete, with the surrounding area covered with a concrete apron that will prevent the water source from being polluted by human activity. The concrete aprons make maintenance and cleaning easier, and with good care, will last the community for many years to come. By retrofitting the water sources, the communities now have access to clean, fast flowing water, therefore reducing the amount of time that women and children spend gathering water and dramatically reducing the risk of waterborne diseases.

It is because of supporters like you that we are able to support these communities and limit their impact on critically important habitat for okapi, forest elephants, chimpanzees and other wildlife in and around the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. Thank you!!

Before Retrofitting Water Source
Before Retrofitting Water Source
After Water Source Retrofitting
After Water Source Retrofitting
Water Container being Filled Quickly
Water Container being Filled Quickly
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Organization Information

Wildlife Conservation Global

Location: Jacksonville, FL - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
John Lukas
Jacksonville, Florida United States

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