Local communities in Congo are too often left out of decision making and most certainly when it comes to natural resources. This region has a long history of violations of political, social, economic and environmental rights and is one of the most visible examples of the so-called “natural resources curse”, contributing to the destruction of local peoples’ lives and natural habitats and impeding any chances for sustainable development scenarios.

Local people know as no others the impact natural resources exploitation can have on their life, livelihoods and security. Since 2011 they have been asking questions and opposing any oil development (exploration and exploitation) in Virunga National Park.

They fear oil exploration activities in Virunga could bring many forms of pollution that will affect supply of food and other resources they depend on; they are also scared that water pollution of Lake Edward could have destructive consequences for the development of the North Kivu province as well as for the stability of the region.

Oil could bring a whole new set of conflicts and predative interests in a region plagued by mal-practices and weak governance. The communities are aware of the consequences of natural resource exploitation. These resources are at the basis of the fragile government and current conflicts in the eastern DRC.

Communities want the DRC Government to take its responsibility seriously

The communities also ask the DRC Government to uphold its position vis-a-vis the international community in the light of all international agreements and engagements the Government has with the international Community (UNESCO/ RAMSAR…).

As well as to look at alternatives based on the sustainable development scenarios, such as tourism, sustainable fisheries and renewable energy.

Bottom line when communities are able to access information, people start asking questions and vindicating their rights. This is a way of improving governance and to hold people to account for their actions. Here below are the steps we need to take in order to help local communities abreast of and involved in the decision making process around oil exploration in Virunga.

1. Communities need access to information.

Communities need to be aware of what is happening at a local, provincial, national and international level. They need to be aware and prepared of the possible impacts of such economic and oil developments. They have a right to information.

2. Local mobilization and long-term engagement is key for the survival of Virunga

Communities need to be empowered and able to voice their concerns. If this is not done Governments and companies will co-opt their voices. Companies and oil interests can come back after many years of “inactivity”, long-term engagement at local level is Virunga’s first line of defense.

3. Local actors and communities need to be secured when expressing their views against oil.

Communities will be always the first frontline defenders, if they fall much is lost.

4.  Government and companies need to respect communities’ right to give or withhold their consent to proposed projects that may affect their livelihoods.

Strengthening the FPIC principle is also key when joining forces in community conservation.

5. Support the new economic model for the development of the North Kivu based on the green potential of the park (Virunga Alliance). 

6. Collaboration and cohabitation between national, local and park authorities always need to be at the base of any sustainable development alternative model.

Virunga is one of the few win-win scenarios in Eastern DR-Congo. Local authorities, the national government and international community of DR-Congo have a real choice. They can choose for what is right for the stability of the country and for the Congolese people. Virunga offers a real option to oil; activities such as the development of tourism in the park could generate more resources and guarantees of security and sustainable development for local communities.

Help us spread the word and support the DRC governmnet to make the right choice  for the people, for Congo, for Virunga.

SV

17 thoughts on “STEPS TO HELP

  1. You are doing a great job. I just saw the documentary early today and is terrible what happens there. Anyway, keep it up. I totally support your cause.

  2. Absolutely fantastic movie. I will definitely be giving my voice & support to this cause. People all over the world should be supporting this cause & helping to protect this national park & it’s people from these greed driven war mongers #letssavevirunga!

  3. Just seen the video. Save the animals and the gorillas. Is there a donation website?? We have gorillas at r zoo. I love the gorllias so much.

  4. My name is Ian, I am 14 years old, and I am a high school freshman at the American School of Belo Horizonte, Brasil. After further investigating through the issue in Virunga national park, and other subsequent issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I have become truly passionate on this topic and felt determined to take action.
    I would be very pleased if your community could assist me and provide any suggestions or guidance for helping me move forward, and in doing so, help me save Virunga.

  5. I would like to know what is the most impactful way to contribute. And how safe is it to visit the area? Money is money but impact on government seems to be what makes things happen.

    1. Dear Sandy, it is safe to visit Virunga / http://visitvirunga.org/ Promoting tourism and other forms of sustainable development in this post-confict area and showing the DRC government that it is a powerful motor of economic development and stability for this region are crucial. We all need to support this new economic development model and make it as viable as possible for all involved stakeholders.

  6. Could you please translate the contents in the website to other languages? Like Portuguese, for example.
    I know many people in Brasil who would love to help, but don’t speak English!

  7. Thank you the great movie, your determination to save the park and the up to date information about the happenings in the national park and the surrounding area. I have already recommended the movie and you website to my friends and relatives. Surely they will sypport you too. Great work. I was wondering, whether do you assisst the organization of sustainable tours for small groups in the parrk. More info would be appreciated.
    Thanks and good luck!
    Valentina

  8. Dear guardians of Virunga, you’re doing a great job in saving Mother Nature. Thank you. Keep it up.
    Czech republic supporter here

  9. Keep those greedy people out of . you’re beautiful country……..protect those beautiful creatures like you would protect you’re own children…..enough is enough when the gorillas are gone it’s for ever..then when the oils gone SO C A ARE GONE…then you have nothing but barren land……wake up people of the D R C !
    ..

  10. My husband and I watched the movie and I have always been enchanted with Africa, its diverse beauty, people, land, the amazing animals. I always thought the park rangers of Africa must be made of good stuff, but now my respect for these humble stewards of the animals and land has new meaning.

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