The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation

Written evidence submitted by DfID office Congo

1. Please outline the specific developmental challenges the DRC faces (both environmental and non-environmental) and DFID’s country office approach and priorities.

· The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is off track on all the MDGs and despite being the world’s second poorest country is significantly under-aided [1] . What happens in DRC matters for the country itself, but is also of regional and global importance. Instability in DRC has already led to Africa’s first major inter-state war, and continues to pose a threat to the region. It has vast natural resources, but decades of conflict and corruption have left it chronically unstable, lacking infrastructure and social services, and made it one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman. At the same time, DRC has vast potential. Its mineral reserves, major new oil discoveries, the world’s second largest tropical rainforest and the world’s third largest hydropower potential should have turned the country into an engine for African growth.

· The DRC ranks first in Africa from the standpoint of the size of its forests and, more importantly, in the contribution that these can make to the stability of the global environment, biodiversity and climate. Pressure on the DRC to protect its forests to help mitigate global climate change is growing. With the return of relative peace and security, the DRC’s forest resources are under mounting pressure from vested interests and market forces. Currently, the poor state of transport infrastructure is the main bottleneck to logging expansion, but this situation is changing. The implications of a resurgent logging industry, and the opening up of forest areas for agriculture and other uses, are that the previously low rates of deforestation in the DRC could significantly increase.

· The UK mission in DRC is to build peace and reduce poverty. DFID contributes to this by working with partners to help: (i) build a capable and accountable state; (ii) deliver a peace dividend by improving access to basic services and improving economic growth; (iii) reduce remaining conflict and its impacts. Our largest programmes are in humanitarian assistance, road construction & rehabilitation, community development and governance reform. Our programme budget in 20010/11 is £138m. We are currently in the process of setting our strategy for 2011-2015 which is likely to prioritise governance & security, wealth creation (incl. roads), health and humanitarian assistance.

2. Has DFID DRC undergone the Strategic Climate Programme Review yet? If so, what were the outcomes? If not, when is your Strategic Programme Review scheduled?

· DFID DRC has not undergone a Strategic Climate Programme Review, yet. In line with all other DFID country programmes we expect to carry out such a review by December 2013.

3. How does DFID DRC manage the tensions between development and environmental protection?

· DFID DRC is keenly aware of these tensions. Our resident infrastructure and environment adviser is constantly engaged in discussion with GoDRC, donors and other stakeholders to stay on top of developments in this area and identify opportunities for DFID to contribute constructively (e.g. through the Thematic Group on the Environment led by the Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Tourism).

· All our projects above £1 million go through an environmental screening process and interventions with a potential to cause detrimental environmental impacts (e.g. roads and mining) generally go through additional, more in-depth assessments (see below).

· While these tensions clearly exist, there are also opportunities for promoting development through environmental protection. The UK is strongly supporting the development of mechanisms to ensure that the DRC and its people benefit from the protection of the country’s forests and other precious ecosystems, most notably through the UK’s £50 million contribution to the Congo Basin Forest Fund (CBFF).

· Established in 2008 by the Governments of the UK and Norway, the CBFF provides "grant" funding to government, civil society and the private sector organisations for projects aimed at reducing the rate of deforestation and alleviating poverty in the Congo Basin [2] .

· The Fund is managed on behalf of its two donors by the African Development Bank (AfDB), in Tunis, with regional representation in DRC and Cameroon. To date projects operating in DRC have been significant recipients of the Fund’s resources, seven of the fourteen that are fully approved are operating in DRC alone. Three further projects are trans-boundary with neighbouring Congo Basin countries. Projects include:

Ø Support for the development and generation of accurate forest monitoring data, methods and strategies for monitoring national forest carbon

Ø Developing a resource base for biomass and wood energy and examining and developing markets for non-timber forest products

Ø Phasing out slash-and-burn agriculture and piloting the use of biochar to enhance soil fertility and increase (sedentary) agricultural production.

4. What is DFID’s environmental impact in the DRC? How do you ensure DFID DRC does not have a detrimental environmental impact?

· DFID DRC is taking the environmental impact of our development programme extremely seriously. Over the past few years we have developed a framework for assessing and managing environmental risks in the roads sector which is now widely regarded as exemplary by our partners.

· In general terms, the most important measure is the environmental screening process which is part of the design phase of each project. It identifies the most important environmental risks and recommends how these should be managed during implementation.

· For initiatives that are most likely to produce adverse environmental impacts, we have put in place special measures to mitigate these risks as much as possible. For example for our mining sector reform project, a Strategic Environment and Social Assessment (SESA) will be carried to identify the environmental and social impacts related to mining growth and to recommend priority actions for mitigation.

· The sector that represents the biggest risk to the environment is roads construction and rehabilitation which is also vital for economic and social development. Our approach in this sector has evolved significantly over the last 5 years and is now regarded as best practice by national and international partners. All our current roads projects have substantial components for the assessment and management of environmental risks (up to 15% of project budgets), well above what other funders are currently providing (although there is increasing interest from other donors to follow our example).

· For example, for the ProRoutes roads rehabilitation programme a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment framework was developed prior to project start. Using this framework, detailed environmental and social impact assessments are carried out for all road axes. These assessments set out the actions required to mitigate the most important likely direct and indirect environmental and social impacts (including Environmental and Social Management Plans, Relocation Action Plans, and Indigenous People Development Plans). For example for the Route Nationale 5 between Uvira in South Kivu and Kasomeno in Katanga, the assessment, which was carried out in 2010, recommended support to the DRC Institute for Nature Conservation to strengthen the management of protected areas along ProRoutes roads as well as HIV awareness activities for workers and local communities. These measures will be taken forward through a specialist unit associated with the project and run by an international firm of experts. Our roads sector environmental policy paper (attached) explains DFID DRC’s strategy for the road sector.

5. Please could you provide details of the major projects funded by multilateral donors in the DRC.

· The United Nations (UN) have a significant presence in the DRC, including the world’s largest peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), large-scale humanitarian assistance (through OCHA, WFP, UNICEF etc.), human rights monitoring and promotion programmes and a development programme through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which focuses on governance and poverty reduction. The UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) is very active in the DRC, supporting several national parks and helping the country generate public revenues in return for carbon storage in forests (through the UN-REDD - Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries – initiative).

· The World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for 2008-2011 focuses mainly on three pillars:

Ø Promotion of good governance and consolidation of peace. This includes support for natural resources management, public financial management, and public administration reform.

Ø Achievement of sustained and shared economic growth through infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion; and private sector development to foster economic diversification.

Ø Improved implementation of poverty alleviation programs, with emphasis on health, education and HIV/AIDS; underserved communities, including indigenous communities; and the rural sector.

The World Bank’s main entry point for the environment is its forestry programme. There are also plans to contribute to Inga rehabilitation.

· The European Union’s current programme (EDF 10, 2008-2013) has three strategic priorities: (i) good governance, (ii) transport and infrastructure and (iii) health. Environment and forestry is a cross-cutting priority together with regional integration and the promotion of commercial ties.

· The African Development Bank’s current Strategy Paper for the period 2008-2012 focuses on two pillars: (i) support for good governance, and (ii) promotion of pro-poor growth. The first pillar is targeting the following objectives: (i) improvement of public finance management through enhanced monitoring of expenditures and mobilization of government revenues, (ii) transparency in the management of public and natural resources, and (iii) improvement of the business. Under the second pillar, the Bank will promote: (i) the reinforcement of basic infrastructures, particularly in the urban and rural road network, (ii) sanitation and greater access to drinking water in urban and rural areas, and (iii) electrification [3] . Both pillars aim to mainstream gender and the environment as priority cross-cutting issues.

· In addition to traditional multilateral and bilateral development assistance, the recent entry of China is likely to have a major impact on the DRC environment. A $6bn ‘minerals for infrastructure’ deal, completed in 2009, is expected to reconstruct and rehabilitate thousands of kilometres of roads throughout the country. In a partnership that is the first of its kind in Africa, DFID is currently working with GoDRC and China to ensure that the environmental impact of these investments are properly assessed and mitigated. We are supporting GoDRC to develop environmental and social standards for large-scale road projects which are currently turned into a law that will apply to all new investments.

31 January 2011

[1] In 2008, aid per capita was $25 compared with $96 in Rwanda and a Sub Saharan African average of $49. DFID has recently become the largest bilateral donor to the DRC.


[2] Congo Basin countries eligible for funding are: Cameroon , DRC, Republic of Congo , Gabon , Central African Republic , Equatorial Guinea , Sao Tome and Principe , Rwanda , Burundi

[3] This includes lending to support the rehabilitation of the Inga hydroelectric dam.