ICT to aid DRC indigenous people

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo 

The Pygmies, an ensemble of indigenous people living in the dense tropical rainforest of the northern and central parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have a new friend: information and technology communication (ICT).

The friendship has been made possible by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IISA), the University College London (UCL), l’Observatoire Satellital des Forets d’Afrique Centrale (OSFAC) and l'Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière (OGF), in association with LINAPYCO, a Pygmies lobby group.

There are currently about one million pygmies in the DRC, according to figures from the Congolese ministry of social affairs.

Marginalised and living on the fringes of society and constantly threatened by the Bantus, the Pygmies will hugely benefit from these organisations which want to help them protect their culture, traditions, natural resources and ecosystems.

And this will be done through the Moabi Project, a programme initially developed by World Wildlife Fund-US with the technical support from OSFAC.

The Moabi Project is a powerful online tool for tracking information spatially and a collaborative mapping system that builds a community of users to share, edit, and discuss issues affecting the environment.

ICT teacher Euloge Samba told Biztechafrica that helping indigenous communities protect their identity and ecosystems through ICTs would go a long way towards creating sustainable communities, and instill the importance of science and technology in the minds of vulnerable people.

 “Indigenous people in Africa feel betrayed by their respective political systems, which wants to destroy their traditional existence by all means and replace it with the so-called revolution of modernism,” he said.

Workshops have taken place in the DRC in terms of the Moabi Project to train people about the use of new technologies to protect natural resources and fight illegal deforestation.

And in the case of Pygmies, the project is using Smartphones and geographic apps to detect problems affecting their ecosystems, and help them boost their activities of hunting, agriculture and fishing, and help them solve their conflicts.

 “This is also a humanitarian action because it makes the indigenous people feel that at least someone out there cares about them,” Samba said.

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