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DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides



DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides
A bicycle carrier cycles with a load of about 300 kilograms of charcoal to sell in Goma, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo(Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP)

Lush rainforest covers millions of hectares of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a central part of Earth’s natural defence against global warming — but it is under severe threat from a perfect storm of mismanagement.

An array of global and local NGOs are in a tense fight to save the rainforest, which lost an area twice the size of Luxembourg last year alone, according to Global Forest Watch.

But the problems run right through DR Congo society — from the poor who rely on charcoal for fuel in a country with meagre supplies of other power, to the senior officials who profit from illegal logging.

“There are lawmakers and soldiers involved. They don’t pay taxes — it’s unfair competition,” says Felicien Liofo, head of a wood craftsmen’s association.

Local police say soldiers simply rip apart the fences around the forest and threaten to shoot anyone who tries to stop them.

– NGOs fight back 

The government faces a daunting challenge to protect the rainforest. 

Its 2002 forestry code imposed a moratorium on new concessions and regulated the number of trees that could be chopped down under existing permits, but officials complain of a lack of resources.

Felicien Malu, a provincial environment coordinator, has roughly 1,200 workers to cover a province twice the size of Portugal.

DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides
Joseph Bisole, 27, a former child soldier in the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, manufactures charcoal as part of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Ecomakala project to reduce illegal charcoal production, in Burungu, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on September 28, 2019. (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP)

But his staff, he says, are not paid and lack even the basic tools of their trade — boats, motorcycles or pickup trucks. 

“We can’t organise control missions because there are many rivers to cross and unpaved roads,” he says.

His predecessor in the job was suspended for embezzlement, underlining how corruption feeds the problem of deforestation.

NGOs have launched a multi-pronged attack against the plunder.

Greenpeace Africa and a coalition of eight NGOs from DRC and neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville have demanded a halt to all industrial activities in the millions of hectares of peatland shared by the two countries.

DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides
Two beneficiaries of a WWF (World Wildlife Fund) pilot project to produce domestic bio gas to combat illegal charcoal production look at their new gas cooker in their home in Sake, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on September 28, 2019. (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP)

The ancient wetlands store huge amounts of carbon, but companies are involved in oil exploration, logging and industrial agriculture in the area.

Global Witness investigated the illegal logging trade and earlier this year accused a general in the Congolese army of illegally reselling logging permits.

However, electricity in DRC is a rare luxury, meaning that most Congolese still rely on charcoal as their main fuel supply.

Making charcoal involves chopping down trees and slow-burning the wood in covered ovens — all of which comes at a steep price for the environment.

“I get through a $30 sackful every two months. That’s a fair chunk of what I earn,” says Solange Sekera while shopping at a market in the eastern city of Goma. “We have no other means of preparing meals.”

Our forests may disappear’ –

The charcoal trade — known locally as Makala — is worth millions of dollars and it is attracting armed groups to the Goma area, threatening Virunga natural park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas. 

More than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) to the west, the reliance on charcoal in Kinshasa is also causing severe problems.

Kinshasa residents consume five million tonnes of wood a year, according to French research group Cirad, and increasing urbanisation is just raising the pressure on the forests.

On the hillsides around the capital, there are scarcely any trees left.

NGOs and the government are once again trying to respond.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is trying to minimise the impact of charcoal burning by introducing “eco makala” ovens that burn the fuel more efficiently and so use less wood.

DR Congo rainforest attacked on all sides
WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Ecomakala project managers visit a eucalyptus plantation partly intended to produce charcoal in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on September 28, 2019. (Photo by ALEXIS HUGUET / AFP)

And President Felix Tshisekedi is trying to boost electricity across the country to reduce demand for wood-based fuel.

He has championed hydroelectric power — and ground was broken in early October on a new dam in Goma.

NGOs and locals are not convinced of the viability of the project, but Tshisekedi is adamant: “Given the current rate of population growth and our energy needs, our forests may disappear by the year 2100,” he says.

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Kenya, Tanzania Plan to Conduct Wildlife Census



Kenya and Tanzania are set to conduct a joint cross-border count of rhinoceros and other large mammals in the shared Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

The census is one of the resolutions reached by a joint meeting dubbed ‘the Greater Serengeti Society Platform’

Chaired by chairperson of Tourism and Natural Resources Management Committee of the Council of Governors Samuel Tunai, it had in attendance key tourism industry players from the two countries.

The forum also deliberated on successes in conservation of the Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, as well as challenges and the interventions needed.

Attendees at the workshop facilitated by the European union included senior managers and directors from Kenya Wildlife Services, Tanzania National Parks, and Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority.

Others are Narok County, Maasai Mara game reserve warden, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Grumeti & Friedkin and the Maasai Mara Wildlife Associations.

The meeting saw to the constitution of the committee tasked with the cross-border census. It involved Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok county government rangers, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Wildlife Division of Tanzania and Tanzania National Parks and Environmental activists.

The aerial census seeks to establish the wildlife population, trends and distribution as well as foster cross-border collaboration on wildlife monitoring and management between the two East African countries.

Tunai said data from the census will be used for planning and preparing the management for possible wildlife security and human-wildlife conflict eventualities in the ecosystem.

Researcher Grant Hopcraft said the Tanzanian government has moved about 8,000 persons out of the Speke Game Controlled Area in a bid to conserve Serengeti’s ecosystem as it faces shortfalls in rainfall.

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Egypt’s Asmarat Alternative Housing to Receive Dozens of Families

Asmarat is receiving over 130 slum-dwelling families in fully-furnished buildings, offering succour to underprivileged women, children and the physically challenged.



Over 130 families and former residents of Sayeda Aicha neighbourhoods have started arriving at Asmarat social housing due to fears of collapse of their buildings.  

Cairo municipal authority has marked 47 buildings for demolition and has bulldozed 31 buildings used sheltering 35 families.

Asmarat is offers alternative housing to slum dwellers. The current occupants of its fully-furnished buildings were formerly resident in shanties of Qaleat Al Kabsh, Al Mawardy, Ezbet Khair Allah, Mansheyet Nasser Maspero Triangle among others.

Head of Asmarat Municipal Authority Hassan al-Ghandour said its alternative housing project plans to collaborate with Orman Charity Organization to exempt widows, divorced women, and the disabled persons from paying LE3600 annual rent.

Ghandour explained that the neighborhood is of a great interest to the political leadership and that Cairo governor visits the place weekly. He added that the neighborhood is home to several factories that secure 1,400 jobs to women paying them LE3,500 as income salary and offering paid internships at LE1,000.

The third phase of the project also includes a football pitch, four multi-purpose playgrounds, two swimming pools, a social building, a garden for children, four nurseries, four health units, a car mark that can hold up to 1,000 cars. Also, a mosque, a church and an automatic bakery production line will be established.

Social Solidarity Minister Nevin Al-Qabbaj explained last year that 13.6 percent of Asmarat families have female breadwinners with one in every two family having more than four members most of whom have unstable and irregular jobs.

Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Ma’it said in July last year that the country plans to implement 100,000 housing units during fiscal year of 2020/2021, in addition to planning to complete 105,000 units in 2021/2022.

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Ghana and Switzerland Sign Historic Pact for Climate Action

Under the agreement, the National Clean Energy Access Programme (NCEP) will be implemented. It is expected to lead to the transfer of mitigation outcomes to Switzerland in exchange for financial resources and the extension of Swiss technical expertise as a demonstration of the scalability of Ghana’s conditional mitigation commitments.



The government of Ghana and Switzerland has signed a bilateral pact as a framework for the implementation of Article Six (6) of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

After two years of negotiations between the two countries, the signing of the framework agreement marks the first of its kind in Africa, and second in the World. The new partnership will enable the adoption of green and low carbon technology solutions across the country resulting in social and environmentally beneficial outcomes.

With this Agreement, Ghana will receive funding from the Swiss side for sustainable development projects.  Switzerland will take carbon credits from the Ghanaian side for the emission cuts to meet her climate commitments without compromising Ghana’s effort to achieve her own climate actions.

The negotiations between technical teams of Ghana and Switzerland was further boosted by a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Bern between Ghana and Switzerland during the State visit to Switzerland by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in February, 2020.

​Read also:

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner stated, “We are proud to have been able to facilitate the dialogue between Switzerland and Ghana, build trust in the process on both sides and offer our technical support in the implementation…”

Article six (6) of the Paris Agreement on carbon markets is an innovative voluntary instrument available to countries to mobilise finance and catalyse private sector investments for the implementation of nationally determined contributions.

Steiner further explains “…We hope this bilateral agreement will enable Ghana’s national clean energy access programme (NCEP) to fulfil its objectives by abating up to 2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, providing energy access to millions and head towards a green recovery.”

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In his speech, the President of Ghana H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway called on the private sector of both countries to consider “this bilateral cooperation as a step to further strengthen collaboration between Swiss and Ghanaian companies to identify commercially viable and sustainable development projects over the next decade”.  

​In formulating this agreement both parties have highlighted practical ways of operationalising the envisioned architecture of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.


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Under the agreement, the National Clean Energy Access Programme (NCEP) will be implemented. It is expected to lead to the transfer of mitigation outcomes to Switzerland in exchange for financial resources and the extension of Swiss technical expertise as a demonstration of the scalability of Ghana’s conditional mitigation commitments.

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