Introduction The Pygmies are the Indigenous People of the Democratic Republic of Congo They are the most vulnerable minority in one of the poorest country of the world Therefore the importance of taking into account the specific needs of Indigenous Peoples and potential negative consequences they might suffer from development projects in the DRC have been recognized for some time.
1. The Traditional Approach… Safeguards: Trigger Operational Policy on Indigenous Peoples (OP/BP 4.10) when implementing development activities in areas where Pygmy populations are present Prepare appropriate Indigenous Peoples Frameworks (IPPFs) or Development Plans (IPDPs) or (e.g., PUSPRES, PROROUTES and Forest and Environment Sector Development Projects).
… and its Shortcomings A number of important limitations: Implemented by a variety of ministries and donors, with little or no coordination among them; Actions are limited to areas where the project operates Limited scope to create a critical mass and benefit a large number of pygmy camps Action plans do not stem from and are not coordinated through a national strategy. Similar but uncoordinated activities may be operating in one area, while other areas receive no attention Duplication No synergies No learning experience Measures are often unsustainable
2. A New Approach: The National Development Strategy for the Pygmies
The strategy aims to: Provide a solid background and documented information to the Government, the Bank and other donors Form the basis for a National Development Program for the Pygmies (NDPP) to be developed and validated by the Government with donor- support Identify and propose supportive measures, including specific institutional arrangements, policies and capacity building for local Pygmy-led organizations and for government agencies working with Pygmy populations; Provide a reference document for the Bank and other donor-funded projects to prepare documented and well-informed IPDPs Provide a comprehensive framework and baseline through which individual IPDPs can be implemented and monitored
2. The National Development Strategy for the Pygmies – contd In broad terms, the scope of the strategy: includes the identification and analysis of all factors which directly and indirectly threaten the cultural identity of the Pygmies and contribute to their impoverishment, and develops a set of proposed actions to mitigate them. The strategy seeks to provide an informed basis on which a national and longer-term Program would be developed by the Government.
2. The National Development Strategy for the Pygmies – contd The main issues are: Citizenship and registration Access to health services, education, potable water and sanitation Access to land, agriculture and livestock Environmental protection and forest zoning Pygmy leadership capacity Improvement of housing and quality of life Sensitization of the public authorities (nationally, regionally and locally) to Pygmy-related issues
3. Outlook In preparation for this study, an initial participatory consultation and information-sharing workshop was held on June 27-28 in Kinshasa, with the participation of Pygmy-led NGOs, Government officials, donors and international observers. Field Work was carried out in the 9 provinces where Pygmies live A preliminary study that summarizes the main results has been completed
4. Findings of the Field Work and Study 4.1 Number and Localization 4.2 Lifestyle 4.3 Sedentarization 4.4 Relations with social environment 4.5 Citizenship 4.6 Justice and customary law 4.7 Social capital 4.8 Education 4.9 Health
4.1 The Pygmies in DRC - Definition, Number, Localization In DRC, Indigenous people designates Pygmy people According to DRC government, most of the Congolese population (Bantu majority) is equally indigenous as it pre-existed European colonization However, the presence of Pygmies in Congolese forests is anterior to the Bantus', and has its cultural and socioeconomic specificities
4.1 The Pygmies in DRC - Definition, Number, Localization contd Traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers although process of semi-sedentarization under way since the 1960s Forests are their natural habitats to which they are closely attached Do not own land (unlike Bantu) Horizontal societal organization (absence of hierarchy) Speak own dialect Have a separate set of customary rules and regulations. Perceive themselves and are perceived by Bantu as a distinct cultural and ethnic group
4.1 The Pygmies in DRC - Definition, Number, Localization contd Approximately 600 000 Pygmies live in DRC 1% of the population In small mostly semi nomadic or sedentary groups Present in 9/10 provinces Five groups: Twa (Maï Ndombe and Ntumba) Twa (North Katanga) Mbuti (Province Orientale) Cwa (Kasaïs and Maniema) Twa and Mbuti (Kivus)
4.2 Lifestyle The socioeconomic and cultural specificity of the Pygmy people has been gradually eroding over time. Pygmies vital space (forest) and physical security threatened by expansion of agricultural activities in forests uncontrolled mining and logging development of unplanned settlements (war refugees and armed groups) Many abandon traditional lifestyle and seek shelter along main roads and next to larger villages and towns.
4.3 Sedentarization/Income Opportunities Most communities are sedentary or semi-sedentary Only about 20 000 are still nomad hunter-gatherers The destruction and invasion of their natural habitat pushes them towards sedentarization Gradual sedentarization is contributing to further marginalization and vulnerability: Pygmies are gradually losing control of their natural environment and cultural wealth They have no or little access to land, alternative livelihoods, adequate housing and social services
4.3 Sedentarization – contd Limited use rights and access to farm land and natural resources (Bantu customary law) Land acquisition depends on consent of Bantu traditional owners and the payment of tributes Limited know-how and experience with agriculture They are compelled to offer their labor to Bantu farmers for low wage rates or in exchange for basic food Consequence: Limited income opportunities and poverty Malnutrition and marginalization However, sedentarization not complete or irreversible
4.4 Relations with social environment The historically harmonious trade relationships between the Bantu and the Pygmies are gradually deteriorating Evolving towards Bantu domination and Pygmy subservience Pygmies suffer from discrimination and abuse They interiorize negative attitudes: Lack of confidence Shame Negation of own culture
4.5 Citizenship – De jure Equal citizens according to the Constitution of the DRC De jure equal rights (to justice, education, healthcare, judiciary, freedom of association and expression) No special status as Indigenous Peoples But protection of minorities in Art. 51 of Constitution
4.5 Citizenship de facto Majority does not know their rights Often not registered citizens No ID, birth certificate etc. Low participation in elections (as voters and candidates) up until recently Lack of capital and clientelistic networks main obstacle for candidacies
4.6 Access to judiciary and customary laws Very limited access to judiciary, legal system Own customary law not recognized Land ownership and administrative land division (districts, sectors etc) regulated according to Bantu customary law Reinforced by recent legislation, e.g Forestry Code Makes land ownership, community forest concessions and administrative representation nearly impossible However, new form of Pygmy representation through localité chiefs
4.7 Social capital Small number of Pygmy organizations and support organizations Pygmies not part of management No Pygmy representatives in political parties, technical or public servies
4.8 Education High illiteracy rates: 80% and up to 100% for women Low schooling rates (20% for primary education) Obstacles to better schooling outcomes Lifestyle (nomadic intervals) Discrimination by teachers and fellow students Fees and high costs of books, material Illiterate parents Child labor alcoholism
4.9 Health Alarming health care indicators high (infant) mortality rates, high maternal mortality rates, high prevalence of infectious diseases, parasites, high prevalence of AIDS and other STDs Causes lack of information endemic malnutrition Isolation Lifestyle (nomadism, hygiene) rejection by healthcare officials distance to healthcare centers including vaccination campaigns
5. Conclusion With limited resources and opportunities, the Pygmies are facing increasing marginalization, and social and economic impoverishment (e.g., poor health, alcoholism, loss of idenity, social fragmentation, and limited access to schooling) Pygmy culture has been internationally recognized as a universal patrimony, but unless this process can be reversed, it will lead to the loss of the Pygmies identity and cultural memory.
6. Recommendations Capacity building Improve access to education (alternative learning/teaching techniques adapted to semi-nomad lifestyle) Improve access to healthcare Improve Pygmy representation in the administration Improve relationship between different communities in DRC (Pygmy and Bantu) Protocols for Peaceful Cohabitation
7. Proposed Development Program 15 year, phased program, based on national consensus, to be developed by government and funded by donors, which could include: Creation of an Interministerial Committee and an implementing agency Implementing recommendations in various sectors of concern to improve living conditions Pygmy Act endorsing their status as an indigenous people, special needs and rights