Displaced by the erection of Kahuzi-Biega National Park, indigenous peoples (Batwa or Pygmies), more so than other communities, suffer the costs of conservation.? The Batwa people live in extreme poverty in communities near the park. With no access to land or other types of employment/livelihoods, the Batwa continue to illegally hunt bush meat, harvest firewood, and collect water within the park. This continued resource use exerts severe pressure on the forest, which is one of the remaining habitats for the critically endangered Grauer?s gorilla. The Batwa openly admit to hunting in the park and stealing crops from neighboring farms, but with no other income generating opportunities the Batwa have no choice but to rely on forest resources to survive.
To break this dependency, Strong Roots manages two projects with the Batwa meant to improve food security and reduce conflicts with Kahuzi-Biegea National Park.
Batwa for Beekeeping project: The initial pilot project will use traditional hives to teach the basics of beekeeping and during the second phase we will upgrade to modern hives which produce a greater quantity of honey. Honey production allows the Batwa we work with to improve their livelihoods and reduce their dependence on Grauer’s gorilla habitat. Honey is also a traditional activity for the Batwa and they are looking forward to having a supply of honey not only for income, but for the numerous social, health, and economic benefits it provides.
Pygmy Land Project: In addition to the 40 hectares Strong Roots has been leasing for pygmy families living around the KBNP, we recently purchased 10 hectares of land that is being used by the 150 pygmy families living in the Buyungule village, in the Chombo locality. The project will greatly improve food security for the Batwa communities as many people are severely malnourished because they lack consistent access to food.