Our project is a Nature-Based Solution (NbS) which aims to strengthen the resilience of indigenous youth and women impacted by climate change by restoring biodiversity through the planting of edible caterpillar trees in community forests affected by climate change. the problems of deforestation caused by anarchic logging to the detriment of young indigenous women who depend on these forest products in the territory of Mwenga where the forests are overexploited and degraded. To achieve this, we intend to strengthen the mobilization and support of young people and indigenous women (in cooperatives) in the restoration of biodiversity by planting host trees for edible caterpillars beneficial to the indigenous populations targeted in the territory of Mwenga in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In terms of local indigenous innovation, planted caterpillar trees are a solution to climate and deforestation problems, edible caterpillars from trees planted as a food product allow on the one hand to alleviate food insecurity, and to on the other hand, to create a source of income for young people and indigenous women in Mwenga. These indigenous products have a market value to improve the socio-economic conditions of young people and indigenous women in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
With funding from the Adaptation Fund Climate Innovation Accelerator (AFCIA), PIFEVA has committed and is working to restore 440 hectares by planting edible caterpillar trees in 22 new community forest blocks for 22 additional villages whose forests are still overexploited and to combat climate change and build the resilience of 660 indigenous youth and women and 4,620 family members who will improve their livelihoods to restore biodiversity for poverty alleviation in Mwenga territory.
Achievements of 12 months of the project
PIFEVA has strengthened the mobilization and support of young people and indigenous women in the restoration of biodiversity by planting host trees of edible caterpillars, carrying out activities to identify and multiply traditional forest species that host the caterpillars of edible trees , organize training of indigenous nurserymen, establish native edible caterpillar tree nurseries, organize reforestation campaigns with native forest species and edible caterpillar hosts in community forest blocks in targeted villages, create and build capacity indigenous forest monitoring committees, organize training for young people and indigenous women in the rational management of caterpillars in order to be able to create income-generating activities, we are currently supporting the beneficiaries in the process of creating a production cooperative, conservation and sale of edible caterpillars and we organized monitoring and evaluation missions of project activities in the territory of Mwenga in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, considering the fact that our actions to restore biodiversity are part of the medium and long term, and taking into account the recommendations of the evaluation of the pilot phase of this project, the indigenous women and the young beneficiaries of this project are also supported in the creation of Income Generating Activities (in groups), in particular alternative agricultural activities with rapid maturation, in particular vegetable crops resilient to climate change to cope with the immediate effects of the economic crisis, food insecurity and limit the increase in deforestation in the first 12 months of the project while waiting for the planted trees to mature and produce caterpillars in the target villages of the Mwenga territory.
Challenge and Solution provided to manage this challenge
In Mwenga territory, the right of access to land is not guaranteed for indigenous and local women and young girls given that local customary norms set the control and management of land and forests as an exclusively reserved for men and young boys. In addition, women in Mwenga could not decide nor be associated with traditional forest management meetings. But also, certain tasks such as the creation of nurseries and plant cuttings were tasks largely reserved for women. These different forms of discrimination made themselves felt during the period considered in our project.
To properly manage this challenge, our project has integrated the gender dimension throughout the implementation process, which has made it possible, on the one hand, to fight against the discrimination suffered by indigenous women and young girls from Mwenga in decision-making processes related to forest restoration and management in Mwenga territory, and on the other hand, to strengthen the consideration of the specific rights of indigenous women in the implementation of project activities during the period under consideration. The fact of seeing 50% of the young people and 50% of indigenous women who benefit from this project take ownership of and actively participate in the restoration and sustainable management of community forests as well as in the monitoring of community forest blocks constitutes a qualitative indicator of the reduction of inequalities. and the inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups and which contributes to the strengthening of women's participation in the search for solutions to socio-environmental problems within their communities in Mwenga territory.
1) This project has shown us that nature-based solutions that meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of the community effectively contribute to capacity building and create the conditions for the empowerment of women, young people and indigenous communities to implement adaptation and mitigation measures related to forest management that promote greater representation of marginalized groups, leading to a more diverse and representative decision-making process. This also contributes to improving livelihoods and other measures that enable the most vulnerable communities to meet their basic needs in a changing climate.
2)Restoring ecosystem services positively impacts forest restoration and it also has a positive effect on the structure and function of degraded ecosystems; it contributes to mitigation by absorbing carbon; measures such as agroforestry reduce the pressure on forests and the vulnerability to certain risks.
3)Adopting an approach based on the best available traditional and indigenous knowledge can greatly contribute to resilience to climate change and to the protection and various mechanisms of restoration of biodiversity since indigenous and local knowledge can inform us about the impacts and climate damage as well as the drivers of biodiversity loss and effective methods to achieve integrated biodiversity restoration, improved resilience and changed behaviors for future generations.
4)Indigenous and local people are often well placed to observe and understand local ecosystems. As such, indigenous, traditional and local knowledge systems constitute one of the largest bodies of human knowledge on climate disturbances, biodiversity and ecosystems. Unfortunately, these knowledge systems are rarely recognized as resources for understanding climate phenomena, monitoring and managing biodiversity.
Capitalization of indigenous knowledge
Following this project, the historical knowledge of the indigenous ancestors of Mwenga who ensured that the forest continues to meet their needs without destroying it has been used and popularized in favor of the beneficiaries and local communities who have regained consciousness and are remained mobilized against uncontrolled deforestation in the targeted villages and this is already producing positive effects given the decline and or cessation of ember production activities in the forests covered by the project. Young people and indigenous women who benefit from this project have become aware of the importance of reconstituting the genetic heritage of plant and animal species, including edible caterpillars, by planting trees with edible caterpillars in the community forests of Mwenga. Reason why the young people and indigenous women of Mwenga have naturally adopted sustainable lifestyles, which demonstrates their positive commitment to the restoration and preservation of biodiversity in Mwenga territory.
Gender and Social Inclusion (GSI)
This project has integrated the gender dimension well throughout the implementation process and has made it possible, on the one hand, to fight against the discrimination of which the indigenous women of Mwenga are victims in the decision-making processes related to logging in the territory of Mwenga, and on the other hand, to strengthen the consideration of the specific rights of indigenous women in Mwenga territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fact of seeing 50% of the young people and 50% of indigenous women who benefit from this project take ownership of and actively participate in the restoration and sustainable management of community forests as well as in the monitoring of community forest blocks constitutes a qualitative indicator of the reduction of inequalities. and the inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups and which contributes to the strengthening of women's participation in the search for solutions to socio-environmental problems within their communities in Mwenga territory.This project contributes to the promotion of gender equity and equality and gender mainstreaming in other actions implemented by PIFEVA. It is a good practice on promoting the participation and leadership of vulnerable and formerly marginalized indigenous women and youth.
Project Community Mobilization Strategy
To consolidate its community engagement innovations strategy, PIFEVA has implemented a strategy to empower beneficiaries (young people and indigenous women) in the process of planting, maintaining and monitoring restored community forests. This requires the creation and support of the local committee of nurserymen, a Local Committee for the Fight against Deforestation and Indigenous Forest Monitoring Committees bringing together young people and indigenous women supported in the monitoring, protection and integrated management of the systems. in order to improve the management of forest landscapes, the implementation of sustainable management of community forests and the strengthening of reforestation efforts in Mwenga territory in South Kivu. The work of expanding, maintaining and monitoring nurseries and restored forest blocks is organized in accordance with local regulations and the nursery management and forest monitoring plan drawn up and adapted by the local nursery committee, the Aboriginal Committees of Forest Monitoring and the Local Committee for the Fight Against Deforestation (composed of young people and indigenous women).
Needs to mobilize additional funding for the continuity of the project
At this stage of the project and given the immensity of the needs of the majority of indigenous populations, particularly other indigenous women and young people living in other villages not yet covered by its interventions, PIFEVA has identified 28 new community forest blocks for a total of 540 new hectares of forests to be restored by planting edible caterpillar trees for 28 additional villages whose forests are still overexploited and degraded in order to fight against climate change and strengthen the resilience of 840 young people and indigenous women and 5880 members of their families who will improve their livelihoods in order to restore biodiversity for the fight against poverty in the territory of Mwenga in the Democratic Republic of Congo.