At the beginning of November 2017, REDD-Monitor wrote about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe province, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The post was based on a report by the Congolese NGO, Ligue Congolaise de Lutte Contre la Corruption (LICOCO), and LICOCO’s report was the result of an independent observation mission to the territory of Mushie in Mai Ndombe.
Two members of WWF-DRC left comments following the post. Bruno Perodeau, Conservation Director at WWF-DRC, wrote that,
Reading this article today was shocking. WWF-DRC normally doesn’t respond to this kind of allegations, but today the level of misinformation is so high, that some clarifications are needed.
As evidence that the project is going well, Perodeau refers to an article by the World Bank , about a “high ranking World Bank delegation together with the Governor of the Mai Ndombe province”. Of course, the World Bank is funding the project, through the Forest Investment Programme. And neither the Bank Staff, nor the governor of Mai Ndombe have any interest in uncovering any flaws in the project.
Hicham Daoudi, the Project Manager of WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe, wrote,
This article is highly amusing because of the high content of nonsense.
Daoudi offered (subject to his supervisors’ approval) to show REDD-Monitor around for a couple of days, to see “how things are really done in the field”. But that would mean flying thousands of kilometres to the Democratic Republic of Congo. All that money and all those greenhouse gas emissions, would be just to spend a couple of days embedded with WWF. If I was going to investigate WWF’s Mai Ndombe REDD project I would certainly want to talk to Daoudi and other members of WWF staff, but I would make sure that the trip was not organised by WWF.
LICOCO’s report is valuable precisely because it is independent – it is not based on the agenda of project funders, politicians, or the project manager.
REDD-Monitor does, however, have some questions for Hicham Daoudi, the project manager of WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe, based the issues raised in LICOCO’s report. I look forward to posting Daoudi’s response in full, and unedited, when it arrives.
- Why did WWF Kinshasa not give WWF’s representatives in Mushie permission to meet with LICOCO and answer their questions?
- You state that LICOCO’s report has a “high content of nonsense”. Could you please explain further what exactly you consider to be nonsense in the report?
- Based on speaking to people living in Mushie, LICOCO is concerned that the local development and committees (CLDs) and rural agriculture and management committees (CARGs) do not represent the local communities of Mushie. Yet WWF considers CLDs and CARGs to be the beneficiaries of the project. What is WWF’s response to LICOCO’s concerns?
- LICOCO suggests that an assessment should be carried out of the work carried out by the NGOs that set up the CLDs and the CARG. Do you agree that this would be a reasonable course of action? If not, why not?
- Your colleague Bruno Perodeau, Conservation Director at WWF-DRC, argues that WWF did carry out a process of free, prior and informed consent. He describes the process as follows: “each community has been previously informed directly by receiving the project description (official reception by community available). Each community was then allowed thereafter to organize their own representative committee and to engage freely in the project by signing a specific MOU (documents available).”
Please send copies of the documents that Perodeau mentions (to firstname.lastname@example.org), including the project description given to communities. Do you consider this to be an adequate and appropriate process of free, prior and informed consent?
- Perodeau also states that the CLDs were “put in place following all principles of democractic process (general assembly, voting, etc.), and officially recognized by the decentralized authority (documents available)”. Could you please send copies of the documents that Perodeau refers to.
- How do you account for the statements from CLD members to LICOCO that they have never taken part in any activity related to REDD education in Mushie?
- Similarly, a member of the CARG in Duama village told LICOCO that they had not been consulted either during the design or the implementation of the project. He had not given his consent to the project. How does WWF respond to this accusation?
- Did WWF get the free, prior and informed consent of the land chiefs before deciding on sites for tree nurseries, and for tree plantations? If so, please describe this process of FPIC. If not, why not?
- How does WWF respond to the accusation in LICOCO’s report that WWF does not involve members of the Territorial Administration in the project? How do you account for the fact that the Administrator of the Territory of Mushie told LICOCO that he does not know how funds are allocated to the REDD project?
- LICOCO writes that, “Everyone we met said that they were disappointed that the promises made to local communities were not respected by WWF.” This is a serious accusation. How does WWF respond to this?
- LICOCO’s report states that planned construction projects in Mushie have not yet started. What is WWF’s response to this? Has construction started, and if so what is being constructed? Can you provide a timeline for proposed construction works under the project?
- Local communities told LICOCO that WWF spends more money on operating costs (renting office space, hotels, staff travel) than financing the infrastructure planned under the project. Could you please provide a breakdown of project costs so far, a project logical framework, and the costs of carried out the various activities planned under the project.
- The complaints mechanism seems unnecessarily complex. LICOCO reports that several village chiefs have been waiting for more than five months for WWF’s response to their complaints. Could you please describe how the complaints mechanism is supposed to work, and why it is taking so long to respond to complaints.
- Perodeau argues that the payments made under the project are not salaries and therefore DRC’s minimum wage legislation is not relevant. But would you agree that the payments made under the project are low? Isn’t there a problem with results based payments, that villagers carry out the work, but then have to wait several months before they receive further payments, and if the trees don’t survive (for whatever reason) the communities see no payment for their work?
- There’s also the opportunity cost for villagers, who can earn far more from cattle farming, for example, than they can by planting trees. Isn’t this a fundamental problem for WWF’s REDD project? Not to mention for other REDD projects, particularly given the fact that the World Bank’s Carbon Fund has stated that it is not willing to pay more than US$5 per ton of carbon.
- LICOCO asked you for information about the REDD project and asked you for a response to the report. In both cases, you referred LICOCO to the Forest Investment Program. Yet you are the project management for the WWF REDD project. You had the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies in the report before it was published. Why did you not respond to LICOCO’s emails about their report?