The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the world’s second largest tropical rain forest, providing an important buffer against climate change and a carbon sink. Although the rate of deforestation in the DRC is low compared to other countries in the Amazon and Southeast Asia, more than 300,000 hectares were lost between 2010 and 2015 and international efforts are needed to address deforestation and forest degradation.
DRC’s government has been working to reduce deforestation and forest degradation to address climate change (efforts commonly referred to as ‘REDD+’). The DRC’s Emission Reductions Program in the Mai Ndombe province was the first of its kind to be selected into the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Carbon Fund in December 2016. This large-scale emission reductions program is the first step in implementing DRC’s national REDD+ strategy at the jurisdictional level, and is expected to provide a model for green development in the Congo Basin, as well as an important test of climate action on the African continent.
What is the World Bank doing in DRC?
The World Bank has since 2010 been working with partners to design an integrated REDD+ initiative in Mai Ndombe Province. The program has two key components – investments and performance-based payments. The Forest Investment Program (effective in Mai Ndombe’s Plateau district since 2014) and the Central African Forest Initiative (to become effective in the Mai Ndombe District by May 2018), provide finance to implement agroforestry activities that take pressure off natural forests. This includes the planting of acacia trees, which are used for charcoal and building, intercropped with cassava and fruit trees (like mango and avocado) to enhance food security.
The program improves the livelihoods of very poor farmers, sequesters carbon and reduces carbon emissions by reducing slash-and-burn agricultural practices. As a result of the climate mitigation efforts of the work, beneficiaries will in the future receive payments from the FCPF’s Carbon Fund under an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA), which is due to be signed soon by the World Bank and the DRC’s government.
What is the progress so far?
- There was strong community participation from both men and women during the consultative period for the initiative. As of June 2017, 15,406 people had participated in consultations, of whom more than half (8,165), were women.
- To date, 1,295,800 acacia seedlings have been planted across 1,178 hectares. The program aims to plant acacia across 5,000 hectares by June 2020, and is on track to meet that target by 2019. Acacia grows quickly and can rapidly provide wood for fuel and building, with the goal of taking pressure off natural forests. The acacia trees are intercropped with cassava, and in many cases, fruit trees such as mango, butter fruit and avocado are planted.
- In addition, 4,396 hectares of exclosures have been implemented in the savanna to facilitate natural regeneration by protecting land areas from bush fires.
- A total of 3,772 smallholders, including 1,113 women, have benefited from the program through Payments for Environmental Services (PES). Contracts for these payments were signed with local development committees for reforestation activities. Approximately 4,250 additional farmers are expected to benefit by the end of the project through similar PES schemes.
- The program has focused on strengthening governance of natural resources in the Plateau district of the province. A Steering Committee for Forest Investment and Emissions Reduction Programs, chaired by the Governor of Mai Ndombe, was established and met twice - in December 2016 and 2017; 14 Rural Agricultural Management Committees (RAMC) are supported in their operation; and 199 Local Development Committees (CLD) were created or revitalized. Women represent more than 30% of participants in these RAMC and LDC.