In Congo, the forest deforested to obtain precious coal

In Congo, the forest deforested to obtain precious coal

“If the Congolese had access to electricity, they would not burn coal for cooking,” admits Papa Nioka, one of the charcoal market intermediaries (makala, in Lingala), which is becoming increasingly important in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With all the rivers that cross our country, with the flow of 40,000 m3 per second of the Congo River, we have hydroelectric potential. The State could provide us with a functional network and the forest would be better preserved.”

The people deprived of the manna

While the DRC has numerous natural resources, including the mineral wealth of the south and east, its people have never really benefited from this windfall since independence, acquired in 1960. And its ruling class has not not invested to put in place basic infrastructure (roads, schools, water and electricity networks, etc.), taking up most of national revenue. The population (around 105 million), which has doubled in twenty years and is expected to double again in the next twenty years, lives in extreme poverty. The second term of Félix Tshisekedi, who was sworn in on January 20, should not change the situation. And ecological issues are not among its priorities.

In Kinshasa, the capital, a few individual initiatives offer alternatives to charcoal, including “improved stoves”, which increase cooking efficiency, and charcoal briquettes made from biodegradable waste. “The urgency is to limit the pressure on natural forests,” concludes Émilien Dubiez, forest engineer at CIRAD, who has been working for fifteen years on more sustainable management of forests. makala .

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