CIDT are leading a partnership to distribute information and resources to indigenous communities in three countries in the Congo Basin, via existing project networks.
There is a great threat from the COVID19 pandemic to the region, particularly for indigenous communities. Indigenous communities are the best guardians of the world’s forests and biodiversity. With the safety of urban areas being prioritised, the disruption of services in rural areas is a real risk when coupled with lack of accessible information on the disease and risks of isolation, discrimination and a slide into poverty. It is essential to raise awareness among this category of the population so that they are aware of the seriousness of the pandemic and respect the measures advocated by the country’s political and health authorities in order to protect themselves from spreading to areas not yet affected.
Following a COVID 19 appeal to key donors, the EU and DFID have agreed for CIDT to redirect over £160,000 of contingency funding and under-spend allocated in the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) project towards a COVID 19 response. The team has successfully mobilised an additional £14,000 of new funding from the FAO EU FLEGT Programme.
Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, Associate Professor (International Development) and Programme Manager for the CV4C led the appeal and commented:
“This is really positive news and this money will go a long way in helping raise awareness and fighting COVID 19 with the communities we are working with across the Congo Basin”.
The funds will be used by CV4C project partners to:
- raise awareness about the virus and measures to prevent/combat the disease
- identify the impacts of the virus on indigenous communities and women
- assess and document the impacts on forest and wildlife activities (especially illegality)
- propose actions and mechanisms to address or mitigate impacts on communities
Networks established in the CV4C project include community organisations that undertake forest monitoring throughout the major forest areas. Our project will leverage these networks to:
- reach 5000+ people to deliver awareness-raising campaigns
- distribute 6000 sanitary kits distributed
- engage 30 media outlets to disseminate information and messages on national mainstream and social media
- provide regular updates on perceived COVID impacts to key decision makers
Through keeping information and resources flowing between forest communities and governments, donors and media, this partnership will contribute towards keeping people safe and ensuring that effective planning can begin for when the COVID19 threat is more under control.
The forests in the Congo Basin represent the second largest on the planet and are vital for global climate regulation and Africa’s biodiversity. They are home to over 40 million people and support the livelihoods of 75 million people from 150 ethnic groups. There is a growing body of evidence linking deforestation, destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity loss, and zoonoses such as COVID-19. In addition to these challenges, the forest sector has to combat illegal logging, corruption and poor forest and land governance.
Photo taken by project partner FLAG Cameroon once the outreach work had begun.