Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
Land Rights and Natural Building
About the Implementing organization
Name: Mama Na Bana ASBL
Country: Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
Year of establishment: 2011
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization / Legally recognized non-profit status / Indigenous group or organization / Ethnic minority group or association
Ensuring that the Batwa Pygmy families have access and ownership of their own land and title deeds. Fundraising and purchase of 10 hectares of land with river streams as borders for continued year-round access to water.
The Batwa Pygmy, expelled from the Park with no compensation. The drastic effect of the refugee influx and the Rwandan Interahamwe and Congolese Mayi-Mayi militias have also affected their lives drastically, they have been murdered, raped, and further displaced.
When the forest area that is now known as Kahuzi Biega became a national park in the 70’s the Batwa were evicted from the park. Since they had no title to land, they were given no compensation. The Batwa became conservation refugees in an unfamiliar, unforested world.
Many Batwa died during the early years of exile and during the long years of war which has plagued the Congo, and the tribe’s very existence continues to be severely threatened.
Naturally nomadic, the Batwa constructed homes from natural materials found in the forest, mainly from leaves and branches, these homes would disintegrate shortly after they moved from that area. Now that they are settled we've aimed at teaching them construction using locally sourced materials to build low impact traditional huts which can withstand the tests of time and the elements.
Forests / Mountains
Type of Action
Protection / Sustainable use / Advocacy for land & water rights
Sustainable Development Element
Peace and security
The potential environmental impact this project can have on its wider environment is substantial. We are situated in an extremely rich biodiverse region. The Batwa have for millennia been living as custodians of the forest. They have a deep understanding of the nature and cycles of nature. The current situation has created an imbalance that can be salvaged.
The ecovillage and permaculture strategies focus on environmental issues in a holistic way. For example whilst addressing economic issues and considering the alternatives, emphasis will go hand in hand with the environmental side of things. We will use clean energy (solar) and train people on how to use it and encourage, advise and teach surrounding communities also once our community is stable as a model.
We will continue to reduce, reuse and recycle all materials. The Batwa as it is are experts in this!
Sustainable Development Impacts
Regarding building and construction, we promote building with natural locally sourced materials, using both tried and tested traditional methods and crafts, combined with modern design and building technique. Each household has been built with support from local masons who have passed on their knowledge to the Batwa, so that the houses have been built as a community effort by the Batwa themselves. This way the maintenance is continued without outside support needed.
We continue training in a sustainable natural building with several courses planned for this year.
In the forest, the indigenous hunter-gatherer Batwa had no concept of land ownership and they had no title to land.
Recognising this history and considering the fact that a community needs rights to their own land in order to thrive and prosper. We felt a need to purchase land for them so that they can relax as a community without worry of being chased, from this point on they can engage in activities that will support their social structures.
Mama Na Bana and her partners are committed to supporting this process and project in the long term and to teach permaculture techniques, appropriate land design management through adapted Ecovillage Design Education training, and responsible ownership. We believe that our community will one day be able to teach other community the skills they have learned and pass on the knowledge.
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), set up in 1995, is an umbrella organisation working to support the experimental creation and preservation of low impact lifestyles across the globe. Network members include large networks like Sarvodaya (2,000 active sustainable villages in Sri Lanka); the Federation of Damanhur in Italy and Nimbin in Australia; ; urban rejuvenation projects like Los Angeles EcoVillage and Christiania in Copenhagen; permaculture design sites such as Crystal Waters, Australia, Cochabamba, Bolivia and Barus, Brazil; and educational centres such as Findhorn in Scotland, Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, Earthlands in Massachusetts, and many more.
Official UN recognition has been awarded to many of GEN’s projects as valuable contributions to the ‘Decade of Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014’
GEN-Congo was officially launched during the GEN-Africa Congo Ecovillage Conference which took place in May 2011
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