Our work in the Republic of the Congo helps communities receive benefits from logging operations to support local development projects. Companies release the funds, but the money often gets lost through inefficient spending, bureaucratic hurdles and corruption. Villagers are still waiting for basic necessities like fishing equipment, farming supplies and water pumps.
I work in the densely forested Likoala Department of the Republic of the Congo. Communities here are impoverished, and administrative bodies lack the basic capacity to channel concession funds into projects that benefit local residents.
We find that the beneficiaries, the local communities, want to be involved and become really committed. The project’s approach is to fine-tune the system that is there rather than develop a new benefit distribution model from scratch. Improvements can be made by drawing on existing knowledge and experience.
We noticed that there were a lot of problems with the previous system. The money was not reaching the beneficiaries, the projects were badly designed, or there was no proper monitoring. We are therefore creating safeguards to make the process more accountable. Treasury administrators often receive funds in cash, without proper accountability processes. To avoid misuse of funds, proper monitoring is needed to ensure transparency. You can support community micro-projects, but if there is no effective monitoring, the project cannot be completed.
In the context of REDD+, the Republic of the Congo is exploring ways to engage communities to reduce deforestation and promote climate smart agriculture. Projects are already underway that compensate local communities for undertaking low forest impact activities. And these types of incentive systems are set to grow in number.
All the improvements that we made were of interest to the National REDD+ Coordination Committee in the Republic of the Congo. They consider this work to be a model that can be adapted to the REDD+ mechanism more widely.