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Unanswered questions about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe, Democratic Republic of Congo

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Ten days ago, REDD-Monitor sent some questions to Hicham Daoudi, project manager of WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe, Democratic Republic of Congo. The questions were a follow up to a post on REDD-Monitor that was based on a critical report about the REDD project, written by LICOCO, a Congolese NGO.

LICOCO’s report was based on an independent observation mission to the territory of Mushie in Mai Ndombe province.

I sent the questions to Daoudi for two reasons:

  1. He’s WWF’s project manager for the REDD project; and
  2. He left a comment on REDD-Monitor following the post based on LICOCO’s report, that started as follows, “This article is highly amusing because of the high content of nonsense.”

I sent the questions to Daoudi on 14 November 2017, and posted the questions on REDD-Monitor. In my email to Daoudi, following the questions, I wrote,

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. I will post your replies in full and unedited on REDD-Monitor. Please consider your response to be on the record.

Here’s the email trail so far. I look forward to posting Daoudi’s (or WWF’s) replies to my questions in full and unedited when they arrive:

From: Hicham Daoudi
Date: 15 November 2017
Subject: Re: Some questions about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe
To: Chris Lang

Dear Chris,

I’m happy to answer all the questions but I need to check with World Bank, PIF and WWF first.
I’ll come back to you as soon as I can.

Best regards,

Hicham

 

From: Chris Lang
Date: 15 November 2017
Subject: Re: Some questions about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe
To: Hicham Daoudi

Dear Hicham,

Thanks for getting back to me. I look forward to reading your answers.

Best regards,

Chris

 

From: Hicham Daoudi
Date: 16 November 2017
Subject: Re: Some questions about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe
To: Chris Lang

Hey Chris,

Could you please redirect your questions on the blog to WWF as an organisation instead of me as a person. I will make sure WWF reads the blog and it will be up to the organisation to respond.

Best regards,

Hicham

 

From: Chris Lang
Date: 16 November 2017
Subject: Re: Some questions about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe
To: Hicham Daoudi

Hi Hicham,

The questions are for you, as the project manager of WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe. If you want to pass the questions on to someone else in WWF, that’s up to you.

Regards, Chris

 

From: Chris Lang
Date: 24 November 2017
Subject: Re: Some questions about WWF’s REDD project in Mai Ndombe
To: Hicham Daoudi

Dear Hicham,

As I’ve not heard from you, I am sending a reminder about the questions I sent to you ten days ago about WWF’s Mai Ndombe REDD project.

Could you please confirm whether you have forwarded the questions to anyone else within WWF for them to answer? If so, could you please provide me with their contact details so that I can ask them directly when they might reply to the questions.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.

Thanks and regards, Chris


UPDATE – 26 November 2017: Here are the (so far unanswered) questions that REDD-Monitor sent to Hicham Daoudi on 14 November 2017:

  1. Why did WWF Kinshasa not give WWF’s representatives in Mushie permission to meet with LICOCO and answer their questions?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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 reddmonitor@gmail.com), including the project description given to communities. Do you consider this to be an adequate and appropriate process of free, prior and informed consent?

  6. 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.
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. 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?
  12. 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?
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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?
  16. 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.
  17. 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?

 

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