MappingForRights Update 2.3: Largest ever contiguous area of community mapping in Congo Basin shows whole administrative sector is under customary systems

62 communities in Equateur Province in DRC have completed mapping of the Mpama sector, demonstrating that almost the entire 585,000 hectares is under customary land tenure[1]. The maps, made by local communities, using low-cost and easy-to-use technologies reveal a well-defined and long-standing clan-based management system involving more than 200 clans, with a population of about 100,000 people.

To our knowledge, this is the first time that an entire administrative unit in the Congo Basin has been mapped in this way and provides further evidence that much of the region is subject to similar customary claims by communities. This could have far reaching implications for how forest lands are governed in the future, and have a bearing on land-use planning, tenure reform, community forests and REDD processes already underway.

The mapping process for the Mpama sector, 77% of which is covered by the Tumba Lediima Reserve and three industrial logging concessions, has also involved collecting and mapping healthcare and education conditions, as well as local perceptions of wellbeing and poverty. These important insights into forest community life in DRC reveal that access to clean water, electricity and a phone network is almost non-existent and schools and health facilities are insufficient to meet populations’ needs.

This information can also serve as baseline data for targeted development interventions at the village or sector level. A new feature to be added to MappingForRights in the coming months will be a facility to allow selected geographical areas to be analysed for socio-economic conditions, such as the ratio of health workers to the local population.

Please log-in or register to MappingForRights and then click on the ‘See new Mpama Sector data’ button underneath the legend, for more info.

[1] The few gaps appearing in the sector are mostly in fact traditional tenure of communities in neighbouring sectors which are being mapped, or the town of Lukolela.