This report is a self-evaluation of the five-year intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where TBI tried to generate knowledge and it to the benefit of people and forests. Over the last five years, we have conducted research and provided decision makers and stakeholders with relevant and practical information to improve practices, policies and regulations. To achieve this commitment, we have strengthened our strategic partnerships with other key organizations and stakeholders: FAO, RRI, IIED, IDLGroup, UNIKIS, Government and Parliament at the national and provincial levels, administrations and local entities, local communities, artisanal miners, etc. We have also continued and consolidated the implementation of TBI in the DRC. Intense activities were possible thanks to a very committed staff.
Through its activities (research, training, workshop, publications and presentations) to address the development of national issues (community forestry, artisanal mining, VPAFLEGT process, forest governance, REDD+, land tenure and livelihoods, SMFEs, etc.), TBI DRC has strengthened its responsibility and legitimacy, reputation and excellent recognition as a competent organization among national forestry stakeholders. The TBI approach as a knowledge broker is always appropriate. But, the participants in the self-assessment question whether TBI should not also complete its approach during implementation by conducting more lobbying activities (even confrontation) beyond the counselling and advocacy actions for some specific projects.
The review of the TBI programme in the DRC reminds us of what we sometimes tend to forget: operating in this country is very difficult because the needs are enormous. The DRC is a post-conflict country with many challenges to overcome. Basic socio-economic infrastructure is defective and operational costs are high. On the other hand, the local populations are mainly (about 60%) very poor. In some areas, the situation is still volatile, as state bankruptcy allows both local and foreign militias to control areas (with natural resources) and to flourish through various stabilization initiatives (MONUSCO, Government, international partners, EU, UN agencies, NGOs, etc.). Agro-plantations are abandoned by their owners and local people use them for their survival. Official employment is rare. To survive, people develop informal activities that also meet the needs of society. Corruption is endemic and facilitates anarchy and impunity. Forest governance is affected. In order to improve governance, the government has joined the VPAEU-FLEGT process and the REDD+ initiative.
TBI’s position is strategic, geographically and symbolically. Geographically, TBI DRC is based in Kisangani located in central-eastern Congo, in the heart of the rainforest. Few international NGOs are active in the Kisangani region because they prefer to work in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and the Far Eastern of Congo (Kivus) region. Therefore, TBI DRC is completely alone and becomes unavoidable. It responds to real needs because of the weak local capacity to generate knowledge. With its excellent research record and near-forest position, TBI stands out as a responsible and competent organization with an excellent reputation and national recognition.