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Story Publication logo October 12, 2023

Land Tenure: Central Kongo, the Communities of Kolofuma Reclaim Land Despoiled by the JVL Company (French)


a tree

The coveted forest has been destroyed by foreigners, impacting communities.


This story excerpt was translated from French. To read the original story in full, visit EnviroNews. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our website is available in EnglishSpanishbahasa IndonesiaFrench, and Portuguese.

Several villages in the territory of Mbanza Ngungu, in the chiefdom of Kolofuma, located in the province of Kongo Central, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are reclaiming their land. These populations say they were dispossessed of their heritage following the agreements signed between their ancestors and the Jules Van Lancker Company (JVL). Agreements which, according to these populations, date from the colonial era and, therefore, should be obsolete because they do not benefit from them.

"WE ACHIEVED INDEPENDENCE. Everything should change! But unfortunately ! JVL only sees its interests. We have filed several complaints with the state but we still have no solution because JVL has a lot of money. He just needs to corrupt them all so that our cases will not succeed. We are reclaiming our land. There are no areas for cultivating or breeding. JVL took everything,” complained the Kinsala village notable, Jean Sumu wa Punina.

The issue of land grabbing by large multinational companies in search of vast areas to set up their activities is complex in the DRC and remains unresolved. According to experts, this land allocation problem arises due to the lack of a well-defined land use plan in the country since the colonial era. But they believe that thanks to ongoing reforms, a change could take place in this sector because, in addition to grabbing land, these companies destroy the environment.

“This problem concerns the sub-region in general. This problem of land grabbing is serious in the country. But reforms are underway. According to the Redd plus national framework strategy, the fight against deforestation and gas emissions is topical. When the country commits at the international level to respect the environment, it must ensure that the specifications are respected by companies because agro-pastoral farming is one of the drivers of deforestation. Animals are ravaging the forest. What I do as advocacy is to push the government to finish the reforms in progress. Companies need to know that these lands belong to communities. We cannot expropriate an entire village, to the point where the local residents can only collect wood!" Said Nene Mainzana, National Coordinator of the Environmental Communicators Network (RCN).   

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Image courtesy of Environews RDC. Congo.

Image courtesy of Environews RDC. Congo.

Image courtesy of Environews RDC. Congo.