Democratic Republic of Congo

Partner: Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière (OGF)

Domain: Efforts to structure the implementation of Independent Monitoring (IM) in DRC through the construction of a National Network of Independent Monitors

Baseline

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mandated IM was conducted by Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestiere (OGF) from 2012. As the only mandated civil society organisation undertaking IM, OGF struggled to fulfil the needs of such a vast country. Without engagement from other critical organisations, OGF could not influence the necessary responses from government to produce meaningful change.

Where organisations were disconnected, there is collaboration

In DRC, several non-government organisations (NGOs) were working in the area of independent forest monitoring. The majority were carrying out non-mandated observation activities (monitoring and advocacy) and only one, OGF, was undertaking mandated IM. This mandate was the product of an agreement signed in 2013 with the administration in charge of forests to give a contractual nature to the approach of independent monitoring. It should be pointed out that monitoring actions carried out in the field were not as coordinated and structured as they could have been. Therefore, an initiative was born to create a National Network of Civil Society Organisations undertaking IM, in order to increase the effectiveness of action in a synergistic way. The constitution of this network was part of the implementation of the Independent Monitoring Strategy developed in 2013. This strategy was revised in 2018 with the support of the CV4C project.

What have been the main successes and the factors behind them?

The creation of the National Network of Independent Observers in DRC (RENOI-RDC) has made it possible to capitalise on the achievements and experiences of various civil society organisations and to pool efforts to ensure good governance of natural resources on the basis of the national strategy and the charter adopted on 19 November 2018, as well as the action plan drawn up in March 2019. In addition, the network has adopted a plan of activities. This network is now a framework that makes it possible to work in synergy and to be present throughout the country. This synergy of action was demonstrated during major advocacy conducted during a press conference held in the in Kinshasa on 9 April 2019 to draw the attention to both national and international media of the persistent violations of the moratorium on new forest allocations by the forest administration, as well as the illegal exploitation of timber by some private operators. The conference was preceded by a monitoring mission to the various ports of Kinshasa (Maluku, Kingabwa and Kinkole) to assess the state of timber trafficking from the country’s various forest provinces. In addition, a press conference was held jointly with the National Coalition for the Fight against Illegal Logging (CNCEIB) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the situation of red timber exploitation in Haut-Katanga.

What were the challenges (or failures)?

There are several challenges that the RENOI-RDC faces in order to be sustainable in DRC. The first is to be able to prompt quicker action from the forest administration to concerns raised by civil society. The administration remains slow to take into account recommendations provided. To date, no remedial action has been taken by the competent authorities following denunciations made by the RENOI-DRC at its press conference and following the statements sent.

The second is related to the resources needed to operate the network. Since the adoption of the 2019 action plan, the RENOI-RDC has not been able to mobilise financial support to conduct field missions outside the funds made available by the CV4C project. This situation hampers the proper functioning of the network and limits it to the conduct of sporadic actions. In addition, no organisation has paid its annual membership fee to allow the network to function optimally.

What are the main lessons learned?

The establishment of the RENOI-RDC has enlivened members in the pursuit of continuing IM in DRC, as well as the desire for consistent advocacy to improve forest governance. The RENOI-DRC is now a favourable consultation framework within which civil society organisations can establish strategies for joint action.

Articles and links (in French)