On June 16th, 2020, The IDEAS For Us headquarters team interviewed our IDEAS For Us Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) branch leaders to learn more about the environmental work that they are leading, the challenges that they face, and the important work on their horizon.
The IDEAS For Us Democratic Republic of Congo Branch Leaders
Daniel Mastaki is a Phd candidate in Government and Regional Integration. He leads environmental and social programming in other non-profit organizations such as Catholic Youth Network, Society Civil in DRC, and Climate Change Network DRC. Mastaki was first introduced to IDEAS through their former International Director. He helped to develop IDEAS in the country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing awareness to environmental challenges and beginning to work with other young activists in Bukavu, DRC. As a scientist, he researches topics related to conservation and endangered species.
Eilode Bakode has a Bachelor’s in Rural Development, and Sustainable Development. As of now, he is pursuing his Masters in Conflict Analysis and Inclusive Development in Uganda at the Maryland University. He is also a member of the Catholic Youth Network for environmental sustainability in Africa. He is a Country Program Manager in Labor as well as a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative. During his time at the University, Bakode became interested in the environment. He realized that resources such as the National Parks could work towards conservation within his own community. He is currently researching ways to make the environmental movement more inclusive to both women and indigenous people.
Climate change is a huge global issue that is being felt around the world, including in the DRC. Flooding, landslides, erosion, and more have been recent climate related concerns to this country. In particular a flood in 2020 displaced 10,000 citizen’s homes which left many locals without shelter(1). These floods are due to the fact that the DRC is experiencing more extreme rainfall because of climate change. (2) Climate change also has caused the temperatures between 1979-2015 to become warmer(2). Researchers are now discovering the consequences of these effects on the country.
Like many areas around the world, the DRC has been dealing with deforestation and the loss of biodiversity. The deforestation is especially devastating since droughts have caused the rainforests of the DRC to hold less carbon. Given this fact, it is imperative more trees should be allowed to thrive within the DRC (3). While the deforestation rate of 0.3% in the DRC is lower compared to the global average of 0.5%, it is still an issue (4). The timber industry has been a major industry in the DRC but the environmental regulations have been very loose. In addition farmers often slash and burn in order to clear land (5). Any attempt addressing deforestation will have to deal with these factors so change can be enacted.
The loss of biodiversity in the DRC is particularly harmful to the rest of the world at large.The DRC ranks fifth in the world for plant and animal diversity (6). As a result the issue of endangered species is a challenge that demands to be dealt with. The reasons why many species are endangered range from illegal poaching to deforestation.
Integration of Women
The DRC team works closely with women’s empowerment organizations. During their time educating their community on the environment, the team shares information on gender issues within their country. In addition, they have been encouraging girls to lead environmental activities, such as planting native trees, to foster female leadership. They recently have been working on a project that focuses on women in the environmental movement.
In the DRC many women are fighting for survival every day. However they are often deprived of education on their reproductive system which adds stress to their lives. In addition, these women also have to deal with the threat of Ebola around the areas where they live. The DRC’s new project addresses these concerns. Their plan is to first have women and girls help restore the land by planting gardens with fruits and vegetables. Then, the DRC branch will empower the women to raise awareness for Ebola prevention and make sanitary napkins as well as baskets in order to bring fundraising for their environmental movement.
The IDEAS For Us DRC’s goal is to educate college students on what they can do for the environment and consider working with primary school students. They know these groups are essential to the movement since they will have the environment in minds as they go through their careers. They are determined to make the movement not stay just in one province, but to continue to spread throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, they desire to be well represented on the international stage in order to bring attention to their country’s plans for the environmental movement in order to raise funds to further their work.
Call to Action:
The Democratic Republic of Congo asks people to raise money for their branch in order for their projects to prosper.
Learn more: To learn more visit https://ideasforus.org/branches/drc/
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Featured Image by Christ Eliezer