Garamba National Park: Community Development Project to Bring Solar Energy to 14,000 Households and Small Enterprises in Haut-Uélé Province, DRC
Garamba National Park has launched a solar energy programme, constructing two solar mini-grids to supply electricity to two towns, Faradje and Tadu, the first to benefit from reliable solar energy in the Haut-Uélé Province
Haut-Uélé Province, DRC: On Wednesday 9 June 2021, two solar mini-grids in the towns of Tadu and Faradje were officially inaugurated as part of a programme initiated by Garamba National Park to provide communities in the Haut-Uélé Province with a reliable basic energy supply for the very first time. The event was attended by the European Union Ambassador to the DRC, the Vice Governor of the Haut-Uélé Province, the Director General of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), the General Manager of Garamba National Park, the local administrative and traditional authorities, civil society and the Congolese solar energy operator Nuru.
In 2005, ICCN entered into a long-term agreement with conservation non-profit African Parks to manage Garamba, ensuring benefits for people and wildlife in the park and the region. The Director General of ICCN, Pasteur Cosma Wilungula Balongelwa, welcomed the success of this solar project. "This achievement is a magnificent example of what protected areas bring to the country's socio-economic development: the valorisation of natural heritage, and the means for sustainable socio-economic development. Thanks to our Public-Private Partnership with African Parks, we are showing that the conservation of our unique natural heritage plays a key role in securing the well-being and the future of local communities”.
Several dozen households and small and medium-sized enterprises have already been connected to the mini-grids, making Tadu and Faradje the first towns to be electrified in the Haut Uélé Province, with subscribers to the network benefitting from continual access to green energy.
"Our objective with this project is to provide communities with access to clean energy systems adapted to their means and needs. Through our partnership with ICCN, Garamba National Park is committed to working with communities and other partners to develop solutions as part of an integrated park management strategy, aimed at delivering social and ecological sustainability" said General Manager John Barrett. "Thanks to the foresight of the DRC Government and key supporters, we are investing in the long-term future of the Garamba Complex, preserving its profound biodiversity while enhancing its contribution to ecosystem services and social development. Solar energy forms part of forging that future”.
Thanks to funding from the European Union's Environment and Sustainable Agriculture programme, Garamba has subsidised part of the construction costs of the mini-grids to facilitate community access to quality, affordable electricity. For its part, the Congolese operator Nuru which means "light" in Swahili, has designed and constructed the grids after mobilising private funding from GivePower. Nuru will also continue to manage the solar mini-grids. By the end of 2021, more than 14,000 households will have access to solar energy thanks to the development of two solar mini-grids and the distribution of solar kits and lamps. The construction of the third solar mini-grid is planned to start in Dungu before the end of 2021.
"The European Union is strongly committed to supporting five major protected areas in the DRC, including Garamba National Park. Over the past seven years, the EU has mobilised 145 million euros to conserve and develop these protected areas," said EU Ambassador Jean-Marc Châtaigner. "These mini-grids are the result of a significant collaboration, involving institutional, public and private partners, local authorities and communities. It is the realisation of a vision that reconciles the socio-economic development of households and small enterprises and the preservation of natural resources”.
With support from key funders, African Parks and the ICCN have seen significant progress in transforming Garamba into an anchor of stability. Having redefined the park’s law enforcement strategy, elephant poaching has dropped to near-zero and other key wildlife populations are on the rise. In the last four years, Garamba has been able to support tens of thousands of people who live around the park through social enterprise investment, educational infrastructure, the provision of healthcare and access to clean water, energy and improved road infrastructure.
The European Union provides extensive funding support to Garamba National Park under the "Environment and Sustainable Agriculture - ESA" programme under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). This programme contributes to the conservation of natural resources and the improvement of the socio-economic well-being of communities living near protected areas in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other key donors of Garamba include USAID, US Department of State, The Wildcat Foundation, Kibali Gold Mine, Save the Elephants and Wildlife Conservation Network’s Elephant Crisis Fund, and UNESCO.
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About Garamba National Park: Garamba National Park, one of Africa’s oldest national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a mosaic of dense tropical forest and savannah habitats situated in the northeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The park spans 5,133 km2 and sits in the broader Garamba Complex including three other reserves totalling 14,760 km2. Garamba is a stronghold for the largest population of elephant and the last remaining population of Kordofan giraffe in the DRC. The Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) partnered with African Parks in 2005 to improve the security and stability of the landscape in order to build its social, economic and ecological viability. To find out more visit www.africanparks.org.
About the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN): The ICCN is the government authority charged with the management of protected areas in the DRC. The mandate of the ICCN is to control and patrol these protected areas, collect and analyse data from the field, and facilitate tourism where possible. ICCN manages a natural and cultural heritage consisting of 9 national parks and a constellation of 80 related reserves (hunting domains and wildlife reserves) covering an area of nearly 312,139 km2 or 13.3% of the national territory. https://www.iccnrdc.org
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