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Story Publication logo July 18, 2022

Lualaba, Kapanga: Who Will Stop the Deforestation Wave in Kalamba?


A woman carries a basket on her head as she walks by a wooden house.

In the savannas of central DRC, gallery forests are constantly being cut. They constitute, for the...

A stack of ears of corn
The fields grown in the forest have a guarantee of good harvests for five years, by repeating the same profitable crops: corn and beans especially. Image courtesy of Habari RDC.

This story excerpt was translated from French. To read the original story in full, visit Habari DRC. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our RJF website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

In Kalamba, in the Kapanga territory, many gallery forests are disappearing. Commercial crops of corn, peanuts, and beans are driving this deforestation. The soil in this region of central DRC, which is abundant in grassy savannahs, is only fertile enough in the forests.

Kalamba belongs to a vast area where deforestation for agricultural purposes is practiced on a large scale, far from the copper and cobalt mines of Katanga, and the diamond mines in the neighboring Kasai. The land is an absolute treasure.

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Kalamba, a city of more than 40,000 inhabitants, depends solely on manual farming. It is thanks to this that everything is possible: schooling for the children, building a house out of durable materials like those found in the city, paying for a bicycle, a motorcycle, or simply getting dressed. For this, it is necessary to have regular rains, and short periods of intermediate droughts during the rainy season, to hope for more harvest. Everything depends on nature. However, it is experiencing more disturbances. The cause: more and more increasing deforestation, believe the inhabitants.

Forest land, the reasons for a rush

The fields developed in the forest have a guarantee of good harvests for five years, by repeating the same profitable crops: corn and beans especially. The savannahs do not offer this. During the first cuts, axes and machetes spare neither young shoots nor shrubs. The forest is destroyed from top to bottom, and burned from July to August, the driest time of the year in this intertropical zone. "It is in the forests that there is great fertility. [However], almost two-thirds of it has already been cleared," explains Eugène Tshibang Mukuit, prefect of the Kovijan Institute in Kalamba, which offers an agricultural option in secondary school. Under these conditions, people have to return to the savannahs. Yet maize harvests have declined. "No one can produce 2,000 or 3,000 buckets of maize," he says.