Dignité Pygmée (DIPY) is a non-profit advocacy group which promotes the equality of native Indigenous Peoples (commonly known as pygmies) with other community groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DIPY was founded in 2004 to protect the rights and ways of life of Indigenous communities and is one of the few organisations founded and managed by Indigenous People in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Indigenous inhabitants of the Congo Basin known as pygmies have a close connection to the forest in both their culture and way of life.
Indigenous women collecting non-timber forest products. Image © DIPY
DIPY seeks to protect the customary land and resource rights of Indigenous communities, and its initiative may be adopted by other Indigenous groups in the DRC. The long-term objective is to increase the Indigenous Peoples’ capacity and representation at all levels of decision-making so that they can continue to serve as guardians of the forest.
Through Land is Life, Synchronicity Earth’s Congo Basin Programme supports DIPY’s “Economic Empowerment of Pygmy Women” initiative. This project facilitates trade of non-timber forest products (NTFP) produced by women in the Indigenous communities such as handicrafts or gathered products such as honey, mushrooms, and wild fruits. This initiative is already having a positive impact on the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities.
Other important projects run by DIPY include advocating for Indigenous Peoples to have secure land tenure over their territories, mapping the land and resources of these territories, engage communities on issues that present current or potential threats to lives, forests, and resources (for example, COVID-19), and strengthening the communities’ functional and practical literacy.