Hands-on approach brings REDD+ technical capacities to local communities in DRC

Posted on 08 April 2013  | 
Local community members in the Mai Ndombe region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are learning new technical skills to help them manage their forest resources. Through a project run by WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative and WWF-DRC, with financial support from Norway’s development agency Norad, 22 community members from the villages of Nkôo, Nkala, Mbanzi, Bodzuna, Embirima, Tshumbiri, Mpelu, Lewo and Ndua are being taught how to record local deforestation data on computers. 

The 19 men and three women, ranging in ages from 18 to 40 years old, were selected by their respective village chiefs and receive the training at WWF’s research station in Malebo, in the Mai Ndombe region. WWF-DRC Communications Manager, Jolly Sassa Kiuka, taught the participants on laptops belonging to WWF that were made available for the project. While none of the participants had ever used a computer before, they were quick to learn basic skills such as creating and saving Word files. They have since learned how to encode data and input it to spreadsheets, and to develop emailing skills. The later has enabled these communities, which have no cell phone access, to communicate outside of their communities – giving them valuable access to information otherwise unavailable to them.
Today their new computer skills are enabling them to learn how to monitor indicators of activities within the area’s Community Development Plan and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) data from their forests. The data that they collect and encode is then sent to Kinshasa, the nation’s capital. 
This initiative provides a win-win for stakeholders, as it both builds a local technical capacity and reduces the need for WWF to send staff from Kinshasa to carry out the work, which can be costly. Through this project, local community members have also gained a better understanding of the relevance of REDD+ to their local communities, as well as the knowledge to make important decisions related to REDD+. Involving village chiefs in the development of the project and having them identify participants also helped the community to have and ownership stake in the project.
Georges Kaba, a participant from Ebirima village, said of the project:
“We thank WWF for the opportunity that they have offered us with the computer learning. Beyond the work we are doing together, computers will open us to others. We had heard about computers – now it is a reality. We can not only touch but use the computers, it is a great joy. In addition we, ourselves, are now able to keep details about our communities. After we collect the information, we encode it and send it to Kinshasa. We are also now able to be sure of the veracity of information.” 
Once the project is complete, it is anticipated that participants will have gained the life-long skills necessary to work with other partners on future data collection and encoding projects. 

With reporting by Jolly Sassa-Kiuka, WWF-DRC

Media contact:
Jennifer Ferguson-Mitchell, Communications Director, jennifer.ferguson-mitchell@wwf.panda.org
Project participants (left to right) Esperance Mpia Lembala, Dieu Merci Beluo (Young Cursor), Rachel Ntaa and Mpela Kuafime learn computer skills, enabling their communities to manage data on local forests.
© WWF/Julie Pudlowski Enlarge

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