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A typical example of erosion damaged roads in the areas of Beni and Lubero.

In February 2021, the D.R Congo National Discourse Forum conducted a study on land management and protection of highlands of Beni and Lubero, two of six territories of North-Kivu Province.   The two territories are home to various ecosystems.

The Congolese Nile basin stretches over the two plains Rutchuru and Ituri. The region is facing soil degradation due to excessive soil erosion.   The Congolese Nile Basin covers an area of nearly 26,000 km2 extending over North Kivu (Rutshuru, Lubero, and Beni) and Ituri (Irumu, Djugu, Mahagi), a small percentage of the Congolese territory, but with more than 10% of the population of the DRC - that is to say more than ten million inhabitants.

In this mountainous region with the highest population density in the country live several tribes dedicated to agriculture, breeding and fishing on lakes Albert and Edward.   The Virunga National Park which is located there and which is the very first park created in Africa in 1925 has become a jungle where armed groups damage not only the life of the population but also flora and fauna.

Apart from these security threats, this park is facing the probable imminent ecological threats that would come from the exploration and exploitation of oil by multinationals (SOCO International, TOTAL and others) which have acquired oil blocks even in protected areas including lakes Edward and Albert as well as the Semuliki River.

West of this highest mountain in the DRC (5119m at Pic Marguerite), flows into a forest, the Semuliki River connecting on 98% of the Congolese ground the Lake Edward to the Lake Albert.

1. Soil Erosion in the highlands of the market gardening region

During the rain, the fertile soil, without any protective mechanism, flows with water into rivers, roads and beyond. The anti-erosion hedges, which were popularized in the region at least 30 years ago, have already been abandoned by the mostly young population under the pretext that the hedges reduce the fields and promote the development of rodents in the fields.

2. The causes of erosion in the highlands of Beni and Lubero

There are many types of erosion in the region due to especially population pressure which leads to over exploitation of the soil. In addition to population growth, there are: the lack or insufficiency of environmental education on the part of the population, the topographical factors of the environment such as many slopes which allow the easy flow of water and run off without infiltration and thus lead to landslides.

3. The Effects of soil erosion in the highlands of Beni and Lubero

There are consequences such as soil infertility due to anthropogenic actions which leads to water course pollution and sedimentation which cause water level decrease. There can also be consequences on animals, the resurgence of land conflicts and pastoralism, poaching in protected areas such as Virunga National Park, robbery, kidnapping, juvenile delinquency, recruitment of children in militias and armed groups, etc.

Solutions and recommendations:

We suggest for a permanent collaboration between the indigenous Congolese, Egyptians, and Sudanese who benefit from this water, capacity building in the management of endangered lands with a view to the rational and sustainable use of our lands, the experience exchange visits between residents of the Nile and also a program supported by donors for the compulsory planting of anti-erosion hedges in all highlands of the Congolese Nile Basin.

This technique should only succeed if the farmers themselves get involved to change their farming practices, their way of soil management and their pivotal desire to manage their land for themselves and for future generations.

The use of the technique of the Free Consent Informed and Prerequisite to help the population in raising their awareness about the problem of erosion in their region.

Conclusion:

It is time to change our practices and management in relation to land use - to hope for and work towards sustainable profitability which must serve not only the present generations but also the children of our children; our descendants will judge us for what we do now; hence, we must act collaboratively.

Close collaboration between all the countries benefiting from the water in the area for the promotion of the common interest and the sharing of experience between Egypt, Sudan and the DRC to maintain the water in the Congolese Nile Basin or better to increase the quantity and quality of this water.

Author:
Elias Paluku Tawasima
National Technical Support Expert
DRC NDF

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