News from the Forest

Community-Driven Progress in Mai Ndombe: How Kesenge is Leading the Way

“Since the first solar-powered water well, child deaths have dropped significantly, and there are no more waterborne epidemics.”

By Jerry Nguwa   |   Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project
Community-Driven Progress in Mai Ndombe: How Kesenge is Leading the Way

In the heart of the Mai Ndombe province, just sixteen kilometers from Inongo, the village of Kesenge stands as a notable example of community-driven progress. Historically a key port during the region’s logging era, Kesenge is now at the forefront of sustainable development initiatives, thanks to its collaboration with the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project.

On this sunny Thursday afternoon, Kesenge’s usually bustling market square is unusually quiet. This is because the last Thursday of every month is reserved for the Comite Local de Development (Local Development Committee – CLD) meeting. Here, elected community representatives gather to discuss and address critical development issues affecting their village.

The meeting takes place at a significant venue, a school in the village built with durable materials, a milestone project under the Mai Ndombe REDD+ initiative. The school serves primary students in the morning and high school students in the afternoon, highlighting the community’s dedication to education and sustainable growth.

Yema Mvula Mahamoud, the chair of the CLD and the primary school’s headmaster, leads the session. Today’s focus is on a pressing issue: the village’s strained water supply. Kesenge has grown considerably, now extending two kilometers beyond its former limits. The single solar-powered water well, installed by the REDD+ project, is no longer sufficient, with its batteries running out of charge before all households can access enough water.

The committee engages in a passionate debate, reflecting the urgency and importance of the issue. They reach a consensus to use their funds for an  additional water well, with plans to install more if needed. Mahamoud is tasked with formalizing this proposal, which will be submitted to the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project office for final  approval and implementation.

When asked why solar-powered wells are essential despite the proximity of lakes and streams, Mahamoud provides a clear explanation:

Yema Mvula Mahamoud, CLD chairman and primary school headmaster Photo credit: Leo Plunkett

“Clean water is a top priority for us. In the past, children died from waterborne epidemics. Diarrhea was common, and children died every day. Since the first solar-powered water well, child deaths have dropped significantly, and there have not been anymore waterborne epidemics.”

The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project illustrates how targeted interventions can foster sustainable development and improve living conditions in rural communities. Beyond its environmental goals, the project addresses vital needs such as clean water and education, working in partnership with communities like Kesenge to lead healthier and more prosperous lives.

As the CLD meeting concludes and the market regains its usual hustle and bustle, it is clear that the residents of Kesenge are active participants in their development. The village’s shift from a logging port to a model of sustainable growth demonstrates the power of local action and international support in driving meaningful change.

This village is a living example of how community engagement and sustainable practices can pave the way for a brighter future in the Mai Ndombe region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Find out more about:

Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project 

Wildlife Works

TOPICS:   News from the Forest,  Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project,  Democratic Republic of the Congo,