The Democratic Republic of Congo, found in the heart of Africa should be a rich country. It has minerals. It has wildlife. It has all that we would want in nature. DRC is a paradise on earth.
However, the DRC has unwanted history of conflict. Even now, the eastern part of DRC is steeped in endless wars that have become synonymous with the region, putting the lives of local people and economies at risk.
Activities like logging, bush meat hunting, cutting of trees, mineral and oil extraction all have direct impact on wildlife and forests. Conflicts, population growth, disease and inadequate wildlife and forest management capacity are among the factors worsening this grim situation.
But the most urgent problem that must be addressed is the deteriorating security in Eastern part of DRC. Even at this moment, theirs is major security concerns and dynamics of violence against civilians taking place in the region. The first and upmost priority should be to stop the violence. But it has been tried before and the violence rages on.
The second priority is helping those who are suffering from the effects of this conflict. Virunga community Programs is among organizations based in DRC that have tried to come up with solutions on how the local people, caught up in this violence can be helped.
After seeing all these issues, the Virunga Community Programs decided to initiate programs to help alleviate some of the problems.
The organization, based in Goma town, has come up with different programs to help the locals go on with their normal lives. These programs are in the areas of education, creating job opportunities, availing health insurance, water sanitation, counseling programs, peace programs, environmental and conservation programs, and tourism activities that benefit the local community.
The Virunga Community programs is deeply involved in job creation, since we believe that when people have jobs, and sustainable income, they have no excuse to take part in illegal activities like poaching and destruction of forests.
We involve and facilitate the locals in art, making of traditional handicrafts they sell to tourists, and also facilitate them to start small businesses.
Tourism in the eastern part of DRC has proven to be among the most effective ways of driving job creation and economic development to local communities. This sector not only contributes to uplifting the livelihoods of the locals but also increases access to transport and communication services. But if not managed properly, we believe that positive benefits of tourism are not going to benefit tourists.
Virunga Community Programs is your part of conservation efforts in the wider Virunga massif. You can partner with us in any way so that we not only help in community development, tourism, but also see to it that conservation efforts bear fruits