Supporting a local cooperative to secure long-term REDD+ investment in Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Year


  • Location

    South Kwamouth, Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Partners

    Joint Research Centre, European Commission; GI Agro; Novacel SPRL; Observatoire Satellital des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale (OSFAC); SalvaTerra; Axyom; independent consultants

  • Budget

    EUR 138 000

  • Funded by

    European Union


The EU REDD Facility is supporting the development of a local agroforestry cooperative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to ensure the long-term sustainability of REDD+ investment in the area.

The objective

The objective of the EU REDD Facility was to provide technical assistance to set up a local agroforestry cooperative in South Kwamouth, located in the Maï Ndombe province of the DRC. The technical assistance supported the creation and operationalisation of Groupement d’intérêt coopératif et économique du terroir Téké (GICET Nsia Mala Mala). The aim of the GICET cooperative is to help sustain investments made by the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF) through the Novacel South Kwamouth (NSK) REDD+ project. It also aims to expand agroforestry activities and provide a model for similar REDD+ investment initiatives in the future emissions reduction programme area of Maï Ndombe, the first jurisdictional REDD + programme in the DRC.

The challenge

South Kwamouth sits on the Batéké Plateau in the south of the Maï Ndombe Province. Located 250 km from Kinshasa, the area supplies agricultural products and charcoal to meet the growing market demand in the Congolese capital. Slash and burn agriculture is the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation in the area. Poverty and dependence on revenues from the sale of undervalued agricultural products are the underlying causes of forest loss. Farmers face many problems in the area including land grabbing, poor soil fertility, lack of transport infrastructure, limited access to modern agricultural means of production and to basic social services like education and health.

The NSK project was launched in 2011 as one of DRC’s first REDD+ pilot projects. The project aims to reduce deforestation through the promotion of sustainable agroforestry techniques and to strengthen the economic livelihoods of the population, including basic social services. The NSK project, however, will end in March 2016, raising the question of how to ensure future support to communities and their agricultural production.

The creation of a cooperative aims to address these challenges through:

  • The pooling of human and material resources to develop and strengthen income-generating activities such as agroforestry, while ensuring the protection and enhancement of natural forest areas
  • The provision of agroforestry services including the supply of agricultural inputs, technical assistance, nurseries, marketing and transportation
  • Community participation in decision-making and in the formulation of GICET resources
  • Recognition as a legal entity so the cooperative can act as a formal representative in discussions with authorities and help secure the economic and land assets of communities
  • The clarification of land-use rights and land-use planning at the terroir (village) level

Presentation of the poster explaining GICET’s functioning by a member of the CLSD of Botulu

The approach

The EU REDD Facility provided technical assistance to set up and operationalise the cooperative in partnership with local and international organisations. The action began with the transferral of 10 000 ha of customary property from four pilot villages to the GICET. Through a participatory process, communities helped identify, map and demarcate the savannah land. The terrain was valued based on its agronomic potential and its distance from the main roads and water sources. This information was used to develop a business plan for the cooperative, together with proposals on institutional arrangements. In parallel, a team of communication experts engaged with communities and local leaders to inform and consult villagers about the cooperative, adhering to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) guidelines. Communication tools were disseminated in the community to explain the cooperative concept including posters, radio messages and a song composed by a local orchestra. Support was also provided to help build community structures in local development committees.

The GICET’s extraordinary general assembly in Boku on 2 October 2015 brought together more than thirteen local chieftaincies

Results and impact


  • A business plan was prepared for the cooperative and its structure and institutional arrangements were revised. The cooperative will be formally recognised when its by-laws are registered with the State.
  • Communities in four villages were informed and consulted on options to improve their agricultural practices, increase revenues and guarantee access to the land.
  • Democratically elected local development committees were formed in the village communities. The development committees were trained on how to communicate with villagers about the project.
  • More than 13 local chiefs gathered at the GICET General Assembly on 2 October 2015 to discuss their involvement and future plans.
  • Over 10 000 ha of agricultural land was mapped and demarcated. This marks the first step towards securing land tenure, and the data will feed into upcoming land-use planning work.


  • The project results demonstrate that the cooperative approach is viable in both a technical and socio-economic respect. The approach can sustain REDD+ investments in the long term as well as decrease poverty while protecting forests. The cooperative could reach financial viability as early as 2021 with farming revenues expected to increase fourfold by 2027.
  • Tenure risk is a major issue, and land use conflicts between villages and pressure from external investors threaten community access to resources. Participatory mapping and land demarcation actions are preliminary steps towards an integrated land-use allocation exercise at the terroir level. Innovative ways to secure land tenure will be sought in cooperation with the Congolese administration.
  • The GICET project is pioneering community entrepreneurship in the Maï Ndombe emissions reduction program area. The cooperative project could also become a model for sustaining other REDD+ projects. The model brings together sustainable agro-forestry, improved livelihood opportunities, forest protection and community land-use rights, in accordance with the DRC REDD+ investment plan objectives.