Core area “Protecting life on Earth – the environment and natural resources” Protecting the rainforest, preserving biodiversity and improving living conditions
Biodiversity and sustainable forest management
After the Amazon Basin, the next-biggest area of tropical forest in the world is the Congo Basin. The rainforests are enormously important for the global climate and for the preservation of biodiversity. At the same time, these forests also provide a large part of the Congolese population with a livelihood and are the basis of their culture.
However, the forests are coming under increasing pressure – for instance because the rapidly growing population needs ever greater amounts of wood for fuel and for building, and ever larger areas of land for agriculture. What is more, areas of forest land are being destroyed to make way for mining. In the embattled east of the country, rebel groups and militias are funding themselves through illegal logging and organised poaching, posing a growing threat to the country’s biodiversity.
Supporting local communities
In cooperation with international nature conservation organisations and Congolese partners, assistance is being provided under German development cooperation for the management of six protected areas; for sustainable forest management, in particular through community-based forest use; and for reafforestation measures. Efforts to tackle poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife products are also being supported.
The most important target group under this programme is the people living in the buffer zones of the protected areas, for whom the tropical forest is the basis for their lives and livelihoods. In order to prevent land use conflicts, the local people are closely involved in the development planning for the protected areas. Alternative sources of income, such as sustainable, community-based forestry and utilisation of other forest products, are being developed. The aim of German activities is that the local people can benefit directly from the conservation of the forest and the preservation of biodiversity.
Drinking water and sanitation
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has made marked progress in recent years on improving access to safe drinking water. However, a great deal of investment is still required. Only around half of the population has access to drinking water and merely 15 per cent access to basic sanitation. The consequences are dramatic. Diseases caused by polluted water are widespread and often cause – in particular in the case of children – irreversible developmental harm.
In order to supply the population with clean, affordable drinking water and to improve sanitation, Germany is providing support for the repair and expansion of water supply systems, especially in the country’s small and medium-sized towns. In order to ensure the sustainability of the investments made, accompanying measures to improve the capacity of the companies supplying water at the provincial and community levels are also being carried out. These utility companies are receiving assistance for making their planning, programming and management operations more effective.
More than two million people are already benefiting from the improved quality of the drinking water and the enhanced hygiene.