DRC women’s association takes charge of the future, supporting others to do the same – FORESTS NEWS

Akili ni mali – the Swahili translation for knowledge is wealth, is the name adopted by a local women’s association in Yanonge in Democratic Republic of Congo.



Led by its president Helen Fatoum, the association involves 20 women who engage in various activities from farming to trading.


The Akili ni mali association was created in 2014 in response to economic challenges the women and their families were facing, notably low agricultural yields, low revenues and high loan rates from local financial institutions.


The women decided to form a group, purchase farmlands, then sell the produce on the local market.


Initially, harvests did not reflect the scale of their efforts though, and even when they increased the scope of their activities – adding some fish-farming along the way – their incomes did not grow as fast as their expectations.


In 2017, representatives from the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) met Akili ni mali members in Yanonge, as part of a large set of long-term interventions in the area known as the Yangambi Engagement Landscape.


Through multiple activities supporting the development of more profitable and sustainable local value-chains, CIFOR-ICRAF has worked with Akili ni mali ever since, on issues as varied as improved farming and agroforestry techniques, book-keeping, accounting and the provision of loans to help develop their ventures.


Improved livelihoods


“We were planting a lot of cassava and maize but not harvesting enough to support all of us, Fatoum said. “Our first fish farm didn’t give us as much fish as we had hoped. When we started learning and applying the new knowledge and techniques, harvests increased steadily and our produce easily found its way to the local market because we were able to sell at competitive prices.”


Due to sales of their farm and fish produce, the association decided to improve the quality of the lives of its members. With each harvest, a percentage of the profit was kept aside to purchase household items such as beds, mattresses, chairs and cooking wares for its members.


“Before I joined the association, my children were not registered in school,” said Angel Likoma, a member of the association. “Now, from the profit I am making with my sisters in the group, I am able to send all three of my children to school.”


Ripple effect


Formal education has always been an area of interest for Fatoum and was one of the inspirations that led to the birth of the association. Many women in Yanonge have no options for formal education and depend heavily on their husbands for income. Fatoum always believed that if women are allowed more formal education and taught skills, they will be empowered to contribute to the well-being of their families and communities.


To see her belief realized, Fatoum identified some members within the association who had a minimum level of formal education and decided that an additional percentage of the farm profits would be used to pay for advanced studies.


One of the beneficiaries of this initiative is 25-year-old Aminata Kombozi. After divorcing her husband in Kisangani, left with no income, Kombozi decided to return to her parents’ village in Yanonge.


She soon encountered the Akili ni mali’s members who decided to finance her studies in a higher learning institution where she graduated as the first and only female agronomy engineer in the area.


“I never imagined that I would go this far in my education. I will never forget this opportunity given to me by the Akili ni mali,” Kombozi said.


Her educational success planted a seed of possibility within the other members of the Akili ni mali and in August last year, an adult school program was started in the association – sponsored by yet another percentage of profits made from their growing farms and businesses.  The members identified a retired schoolteacher in the community who offers practical lessons in French touching upon the activities of the group. Twice a week, the women are taught how to introduce themselves, describe their activities and to identify plant species and objects around them in French.


When asked her reasons for starting the adult school, Fatoum said: “We want to be able to tell others what we have learned and how it has changed our lives in our own voices. CIFOR-ICRAF will leave our community one day. If we do not understand the knowledge given to us, what we know now might disappear with time.”


Ensuring sustainability


In its overall action to increase the availability of sustainably produced crops and animal protein sources – a local declination of the broader landscape approach in the area – CIFOR-ICRAF’s teams and their partners work with and support local entrepreneurs to adopt alternative livelihood ventures to enrich local diets, while abandoning unsustainable models favoring the overexploitation of forest resources.


Local individuals, communities and formal associations assume center stage in this approach which favors engagement and participation, supporting activities over the long-term. Since inception, beneficiaries have been encouraged to take ownership of activities through performance-based schemes, while CIFOR-ICRAF provides support through frequent monitoring and assessments.


At regular intervals of time, a few kilometers away from the Akili ni Mali fields, CIFOR-ICRAF teams also host farmers and association members at its Yanonge pilot farm, where participants can see and test various approaches and techniques, including how to produce and apply biopesticides, or how to produce and mix manure in fishponds, before they go back and test them on their own farms, supported all-along by local monitors.




Go back

Partners News

Tropical Timber Market Report november 2023

To read: West African producers - generally dull international demand; Slump in Malaysia’s exports; Indonesian industry ready to intensify presence in Asian markets; Peeler logs now more readily available in Northern India; Incentives for Peruvian companies obtaining voluntary forest certification; Japanese importers confused over new government requirement; Action required now by tropical wood suppliers to meet EUDR requirements; US wooden furniture imports at lowest since March..

ENB - 59th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council

The fifty-ninth session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC), the governing body of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), opened in Pattaya, Thailand, with a call from the host country for ITTO to continue promoting legal trade in tropical timber and encouraging the use of wood derived from sustainable forest management (SFM). To fulfil their mandate, ITTC member countries took some crucial decisions to navigate the challenging financial and organizational conditions that have buffeted their organization in recent years.

Program of the French Pavilion COP28: Events on climate action by France

The French delegation will be present during the two weeks of COP28 in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). As well as taking part in the climate negotiations, it will be running a France Pavilion throughout the international event, from 30 November to 12 December 2023. The Pavilion will provide a forum for meetings and discussions on key climate issues, and will offer a wide range of events, including themed sessions, presentations of public policies and press events.

WORLD BANK – DRC : The value of DRC's 143 million hectares a of standing forest is estimated at up to US$6.4 trillion, with an estimated annual rental value of US$383 billion

Improved management and conservation could, by 2030, increase the value of DRC's forest-based ecosystem services by US$1.76 billion/year8 over the BAU scenario, and by US$3.8 billion/year by 2050. A comparison of net present values of costs and benefits shows that for every $1 invested today in landscape and forest restoration, DRC stands to gain $15 in benefits by 2050…

Mongabay launches Africa news bureau - Mongabay

In 2023, Mongabay is officially expanding its coverage of environmental and conservation news in Africa by launching a news bureau dedicated to producing our renowned and award-winning brand of journalism in both French and English. The new bureau, Mongabay Africa, will create original reporting on issues relevant to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife and their habitats, development pressures and the activities of natural resource industries, and the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and communities across the continent.

Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform – NEPAD

The 14th  Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) Commemoration and the 19thComprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform convened from October 30th to November 2nd, 2023, in Lusaka, Zambia. The event was structured under the theme, “Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in the Context of CAADP Commitments for Safer and Healthier Diets.” This vital assembly sought to explore the strategic synergy between implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and fostering healthier, safer diets through the prism of CAADP commitments.

Canada – African Development Bank Climate Fund approves $36.3 million in support to climate adaptation on the continent –AFDB

The Canada–African Development Bank Climate Fund (CACF), established to support gender-affirmative climate change projects in Africa, has approved $36.3 million to two private sector operations to advance climate adaptation in the African continent.

Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security: Zambian Vice President underscores role of grey matter infrastructure development – AFDB

African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), a platform for high-level political engagement to advance nutrition in Africa, has joined two crucial forums for advancing policy dialogue on agriculture and nutrition in Africa. ALN representatives attended the commemoration the 14th Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (ADFNS) and 19th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Partnership Platform (PP).

Congo Basin, a neglected world heritage - Nature

The Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest forest has distinct meteorological characteristics, and its ecosystem is controlled by complex interactions between many climatic phenomena that act across scales (Fig. 1). While it receives little attention compared to the Amazon Basin, due to its location, the Congo rainforest also contributes to processes responsible for interhemispheric climatic communications in Africa. At the larger scale, the basin regulates the global tropical circulation by serving as one of the world’s most convectively active regions. Therefore, the Basin offers a unique natural laboratory for climate science explorations and the implications for people and ecosystems. But, why has this green heart of Africa been neglected and what should we do about it?.

A regional retreat to revisit and revitalize the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation in DR Congo and the region – ECCAS

Durban ( South Africa), October 31 to November 01, 2023– How can we breathe new life and energy into the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Region? The issue was at the heart of the Regional Retreat on the review of the impact of the Framework Agreement for Peace, Security and Cooperation on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, and recommendations for revitalization efforts, held in Durban, South Africa, from October 31 to 01.November 1, 2023.

Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa – AU

To elevate women from the micro to macro status, the African Union Strategy for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) outlines the pathways to achieve the holistic empowerment of women. The GEWE strategy complements other policy frameworks by the African Union aimed at promoting the rights of women and girls and advocates for adequately resourced gender structures within formal and non-formal institutions and bodies to ensure that women at the grassroot and executive levels, have opportunities that to allow them to reach their full potential.

19th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) - IISD

Government policymakers, mining sector leaders, and civil society will convene to focus on the many issues connected to “Sharing Mining Benefits in the Energy Transition. Setting the tone during the opening of the 19th Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF), Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, Interim Co-President and Co-CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), noted that critical minerals are the backbone of the clean energy transition. She urged mining countries seeking to tap the booming demand for these minerals to take “immediate and bold action” to ensure they expand their share of benefits while doing so in an equitable and environmentally and socially responsible manner.

ATIBT: Feedback on the three basins Summit in Brazzaville

The second Summit of the world's three tropical forest basins was held from October 26 to 28, 2023 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. It brought together leaders from the Amazon, the Congo and the Borneo-Mekong-Southeast Asia region to form a global coalition. Its aim was to implement, within the framework of the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, the first global coalition for the restoration of 350 million hectares of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Africa’s CAADP Food Systems Guidelines Poised to Drive Transformative Change – NEPAD

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – Malabo Implementation Guidelines for National Level Design and Implementation of Bankable Agriculture and Food Systems Programmes, is a groundbreaking roadmap to revolutionise food systems across the African continent. Recognising the paramount importance of food systems in achieving human well-being, as highlighted in the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, these guidelines provide a comprehensive roadmap for a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive food future.

WCS and COMIFAC Commit to a New Partnership in the Congo Basin to Effectively and Equitably Conserve 30 Percent of Marine and Terrestrial Areas - WCS

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (Oct. 28, 2023) – The Executive Secretariat of the Central African Forest Commission (or Commission des Forêts d'Afrique Centrale - COMIFAC) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of Target 3 of Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

ATIBT: Capacity-building for professional associations in the forestry sector in Republic of Congo

ATIBT is speeding up the process of revitalizing the UNIBOIS trade union to get its members more involved in the VPA FLEGT process. As part of the implementation of the Support of the Private Sector in the Republic of Congo (ASP Congo) project, and in particular the " UNIBOIS Support for change" activity, ATIBT organized a meeting on Tuesday April 24 October 2023 at the Mikael Hotel in Brazzaville, to take stock of the project's mid-term activities and assess the state of implementation of the roadmap defined and validated at the start of the project by both parties.

The United States Joins CAFI's Executive Board - CAFI

In a significant move towards enhanced partnerships and coordination, the United States has officially announced its intent to join the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) as an Executive Board member. The announcement was made during a side event of the Three Basins Summit attended by Prime Minister Anatole Collinet Makosso and Minister of the Environment of Congo-Brazzaville Arlette Soudan-Nonault. The Summit was held in Brazzaville from October 26-28, 2023,

CAFI Launches Call for Expressions of Interest for Regional Private Sector Facility - CAFI

CAFI is launching a call for Expressions of Interest today to all relevant implementing organisations interested in investing in private sector companies in our partner countries (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, the Gabonese Republic, the Republic of Cameroon, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic) to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the following sectors...

COP28: Call for proposals of side events for the “COMIFAC – Central Africa Initiatives Pavilion”

COMIFAC, the GIZ Regional Support Project for COMIFAC, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) France – Gabon Facilitation, the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), the EU Funded Support Project to the Central African Forests Observatory (RIOFAC and The Sangha Tri-National Trust Fund (FTNS)hereby launch a call for proposals to host side events lasting no more than 60 minutes under the « COMIFAC – Central Africa Initiatives », at the COP28 venue from 30th November to 12th December 2023. Applications should be submitted before 31 October 2023.

Declaration from the 2nd Summit of the Three Basins in Brazzaville

In a declaration issued at the end of the Summit of the world's three great basins of the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo-Mekong on Saturday 28 October 2023 in Brazzaville, the Heads of State and Government undertook, among other things, to: to strengthen cooperation between the three basins, which are home to 80% of the world's tropical forests and two-thirds of terrestrial biodiversity; to recognise the unity of enhanced cooperation between the three basins; to recognise the sovereign management of biodiversity, forests and associated resources by the countries that make up the three basins; to pool and capitalise on the knowledge, experience, resources and achievements existing in each of the basins; and to introduce a sustainable system of remuneration for the ecosystem services provided by the three basins".

Programme of CBFP activities at the Three-Basins Summit

Wednesday 25 October 2023, 7pm, French Embassy, Brazzaville (By invitation only) Signing ceremony for a CBFP grant agreement to the UNDP for the organisation of the Summit of the Three Basins... Thursday 26 October 2023, 03:30PM – 04:30PM, Room 3 Kintele Conference Centre, Republic of Congo. Official launch activities of the French and Gabonese Republics Co-Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP)...

The Global Legal and Sustainable Timber Forum 2023 will be held on 21-22 November 2023 at the Galaxy International Convention Center in Macao SAR, China.

The aim of the Global Legal and Sustainable Timber Forum is to increase networking, collaboration and business exchange among timber industry stakeholders—producers, buyers, processors and market players—with a view to promoting sustainable forest management, creating legal and sustainable wood product supply chains, facilitating the legal and sustainable use and trade of wood products in a stable, transparent and predictable business environment, and contributing to sustainable development and climate-change mitigation.

Save the Date Congo Basin Forest Partnership Stakeholders Talks 28 October 2023, Kintele conference centre, Congo, 11am-1pm

The CBFP co-facilitation is pleased to invite you to take part in a meeting of CBFP partners attending the Three Basins Summit in the Republic of Congo. This meeting will be held on Saturday 28 October 2023 at the Conference Centre in Kintele, Congo from 11:00 to 13:00. During the event, the CBFP partners present will discuss the operationalization of the CBFP Roadmap for the next two years and prepare for forthcoming international and regional events. The aim is to strengthen the synergies and pooling of resources between the partners, to build a coalition based on a spirit of partnership, and to stimulate an active dynamic between the CBFP's partners and colleges.

Launch of the French and Gabonese Republics Co-Facilitation of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, Thursday 26th October 2023, 3:30 - 4:30 pm, ROOM 3, Kintele Conference Centre, Congo

Summit of the 3 basins AMAZONIA – CONGO – BORNEO MEKONG SOUTHEAST ASIA, High-level side event. Through this event, the CBFP co-facilitation, in close collaboration with the Economic Commission for Central African States (ECCAS), the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC), the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) and the leaders of the CBFP colleges, proposes to detail its strategic axes.

Second International Conference of Ministers on Transboundary Transhumance of Yaoundé: the report is now available!

Under the High Patronage of His Excellency Mr PAUL BIYA, President of the Republic of Cameroon, Head of State, the High-Level Meeting on the " Second International Conference of Ministers on Transboundary Transhumance" was held in Yaoundé, Republic of Cameroon, from July 10 to 12, 2023. Nexus: transhumance, protected areas and natural resources, development, peace and security". Please, download the report...

25th Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice and Resumed Second Part of the 15th Meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties -END

Calls for synergistic actions to tackle the interlinked crises of biodiversity loss and climate change dominated the meeting’s deliberations. Delegates proposed holistic solutions such as nature-based solutions, ecosystem-based approaches and the OneHealth approach.


DSPA newsletter

Forest elephants are known to form small groups, generally a mother and her dependent offspring. Males can leave their birth group as early as at the age of 7 years, and females around the age of 15-20, or when they have their own first offspring. However, exceptions can be seen at Dzanga Bai such as the Alvah family. Alvah was first seen in 2006 and estimated to have been born in 1962. Alvah has most probably sired more than seven offspring in her life, and she is often seen at the clearing with up to 12 family members, including her daughters Alvah II, Alvah III, Alvah IV, Alvah V and Alvah VI.

East Africa Regional Civil Society Forum

On behalf of the Civil Society and Community Engagement Division of the African Development Bank, we are pleased to announce the holding of the East Africa Regional Civil Society Forum on 18-19 October 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. This event is part of a series of regional forums to be held in 2023 on the overall theme of "Engaging Civil Society in Mobilising Private Sector Finance for Climate and Green Growth in Africa", alternating with the Bank's biennial Continental Civil Society Forum.

A milestone moment: Uzbekistan and UNCCD team up to tackle land crisis - UCCND

Bonn/Samarkand, 10 October 2023 – Today the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) entered into a landmark agreement with the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Host Country Agreement marks the culminating chapter in the preparations for the upcoming 21st session of the UNCCD Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC21), to be held from 13-17 November 2023 in Samarkand.