Protecting and Restoring Water-Related Ecosystems: Facts and Challenges from Democratic Republic of Congo
The Nile Water resources Atlas classifies the Albert Nile Sub-basin is one of the sub basins that form the main Nile basin. The Lakes Edward and George make the DR Congo the major contributor of the Albert Nile sub basin mainly due to the fact that Semuliki River, which originates from DR Congo is the largest contributor to these Lakes.
Most of the tributaries of the above lakes originate from hills and swamps of Butembo and Virunga National Park. The area is rich in ecosystem resources but also faces stressful resources management that affects the basin resources including water and forests.
The Democratic Republic of Congo National Discourse Forum (DRCNDF), a chapter of The Nile Basin Discourse, is one of the active CSOs network in the Nile basin that continues to engage local communities and grassroots leaders to embrace best practices to both restore and protect the damaged ecosystem in the area.
The most prominent activities focus on protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems like mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes. This is done by planting trees in and around the City of Butembo supported by capacity building trainings to communities in the sub basin to enforce control of human activity in the area.
Motion setting by “greening” the city
Over 250 trees were distributed to Butembo residents at no cost between February and December 2016 and the exercise is still on-going. Mr. Elias Paluku Tawasima, the DRC NDF’s Coordinator, says “Our main objective is planting trees in public places; to encourage the activity beginning with authorities of the city as an example to all people.” The targeted areas include public places like Butembo town hall yard, communes' yards, schools and hospitals.
This exercise is twinned with community awareness and development of three nurseries that will help in increasing seedlings for communities in the area. Mr. Elias emphasizes that the current community awareness and best practices will be continuously implemented until the community understands its role in protecting the environment and the direct benefits of their environmental protection efforts.
Bridging the gap in the sub basin
The Congo Nile Sub-Basin stretches 27000 square kilometers which is close to one tenth of the country. Combining two provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, the Congo Nile Sub-Basin is a home of extra-ordinary flora and fauna whose flowing waters are obtained from surrounding rivers of Rwindi, Semuliki and Rutchuru.
The DRCNDF embarked on a program of intervention and protection of Lake Albert tributaries and surroundings through community sensitization and concrete demonstrative practices that serve as model actions against climate change and environment harming.
Furthermore, the DRCNDF supports COOPEVI, a local cooperative society, with skills on the protection of Lake Edward. The DRCNDF also supported FLEVICA’s intervention in capacity development of fishers on Lake Albert. Ultimately, both of the interventions provided by the DRCNDF have positively impacted on the future of the basin.
The DRCNDF implores more support from different stakeholders to continue offering their contribution towards the betterment of the basin which is populated by majorly poor families despite its richness in natural resources.