Dyanmique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones
Synchronicity Earth has supported Dyanmique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (DGPA) since 2012 to facilitate peaceful cohabitation and cross-cultural understanding between indigenous forest peoples and local Bantu communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the use of participatory video.
There are thought to be between 600,000 and 2,000,000 indigenous peoples living in the DRC. The four main groups include: the Bambuti, the Batwa, the Twa and the Cwa. Deep-seated misunderstandings exist about these peoples and how they live which often results in discrimination and even violence. Additionally, ‘development’ policies and projects can separate these peoples from their forest homes and lead to the loss of traditional environmental knowledge.
DGPA is a network of around 45 organisations (including indigenous forest peoples’ groups themselves) working to secure the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as improve recognition of the role that they can play in protecting forests and associated biodiversity. It supports forest peoples to:
- Live with dignity, based on their own way of life philosophy, culture, and customs;
- Access all of their traditional territories, including sacred and symbolic sites;
- Protect and validate their traditional knowledge;
- See their rights and traditional practices taken into account in forest reform processes, and decisions about natural resource management in DRC;
- See their role as guardians of the forest recognised, remunerated, and guaranteed by the adoption of a specific law protecting their rights, as well as by the ratification of ILO Convention 169, the only international law designed to protect tribal peoples’ rights..
Conflict in the DRC is closely tied to natural resource exploitation and environmental destruction, yet peacebuilding approaches typically focus on high-level political and military resolutions, which have failed to bring about stability in the long-term. There has been less support for local peacebuilding efforts. DGPA is trying to resolve conflict by addressing discrimination between groups at the local level through the use of participatory video (PV). DGPA has shown how this approach can help different ethnic groups reach agreements around contentious issues, such as equitable forest use. Additionally, films can be developed, with agreement from local communities, into powerful advocacy tools to highlight the link between traditional practices and knowledge and forest conservation and sustainable use.