A local environmental office is teaming up with community organizations to re-green the scenic city of Bukavu on the shores of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Bukavu, the Green City” aims to restore vegetative cover in and around the city, sequestering carbon while helping to control lakeshore erosion and mitigate pollution. The project is working to re-green not only Bakavu’s cityscapes, but also the minds of residents, by mentoring women in poor and vulnerable communities to participate in urban agriculture that is also hoped to boost nutrition.
30,000 trees planted
20,000 people reached through environmental education
200 women trained on tree nursery management
Construction projects have increasingly destroyed vegetative cover in and around the city of Bukavu, especially after an influx of refugees from neighboring Rwanda in 1994. Loss of vegetation has resulted in erosion, which is particularly hazardous in poorer neighborhoods that climb up the hillsides away from Lake Kivu.
Deforestation has also disproportionately affected women in Bukavu, who remain a particularly vulnerable segment of the population as the result of conflicts related to the Congo War.
This project is being headed up by the Bukavu Office of Environment and Nature Conservation, which is working with the non-governmental organization Femmes et Environnement to re-vegetate areas in and around Bukavu. The project is training women on nursery management and urban agriculture – it has already allocated plots to vulnerable women for urban gardening and distributed cassava, bean, and other food seeds. It’s also planted 25,000 trees in and around the city of Bukavu.
Helping the planet
Tree-planting sequesters carbon, preventing climate change. Re-vegetation also alleviates erosion. Because a project focus is along the shores of Lake Kivu, this should result in protection of spawning areas for fish and contribute to ecological balance in the region. Increased vegetation also improves air quality and brings other biological and microclimate processes into play that can help to mitigate pollution and prevent global warming.
“Bukavu, the Green City” directly empowers the women of Bukavu by providing them with resources and training in urban agriculture. The additional food produced from such agriculture helps nourish an extended population. Ensuring ecological balance at Lake Kivu also contributes to food security.
The project has already started to establish 10 nurseries in villages around Bukavu to reforest surrounding degraded areas. The re-greening will also have a multiplying effect as ever more people are drawn in and sensitized to the crucial environmental topics it addresses.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.